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New changes in China's social class structure

By Zhang Yi (Beijing Daily)

08:50, March 07, 2012

Edited and translated by People's Daily Online

By the end of 2010, the population of migrant workers – a new industrial working class transformed from farmers has risen to 260 million. This rapid and significant change in the social structure not only shapes a new social class structure dynamically but also urges the government to timely adjust social policies. It is thus clear that, changes in China's social class structure have become an important factor influencing the configuration of national policies.

This article uses the "China Social Survey Data" made by the Institute of Sociology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in 2008 to make a brief analysis about the current situation of China's social class structure.

Changes in the structure of class identification: Rural residents' subjective class identification is higher than that of urban residents

Compared with developed countries, more people in China prefer to classify themselves into the "lower" class. Even when compared with India, the number of people among China's subjective class who identify themselves as the "middle class" and "lower middle class" is also very low.

Compared the interviewees living in the urban and the rural areas in 2008, it can be found that the percentage of the urban interviewees who identified them as the "upper class" was 0.6 percent, the "upper-middle" class was over 6 percent, the "middle class" was about 36 percent, the "lower middle" was nearly 34 percent and the "lower class" was 24 percent. But in reverse, the percentage of the rural interviewees who identified them as the "upper class" was nearly 1 percent, the "upper-middle" class was about 8 percent, the "middle class" was over 44 percent, the "lower middle" was about 28 percent and the "lower class" was about 20 percent. Obviously, the class identification of rural residents in the "upper class" and "upper-middle class" is higher than that of the urban people; while in the "lower-middle class" and "lower class" is lower.

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