Wealth gap creates inferiority complex

09:41, December 07, 2010      

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More than 45 percent of Party and government officials believe they belong to the "vulnerable" segment of society, a recent survey found.

The results show the number of people who feel "inferior" is growing, despite continuous improvements to social security, which have elevated many disadvantaged groups.

The Beijing-based People's Tribune magazine polled 6,235 people belonging to various social groups. The survey found 45.1 percent of Party and government officials, 57.8 percent of white-collar workers and 55.4 percent of intellectuals felt "powerless".

In addition, 73.5 percent of netizens said they belong to the "vulnerable social group".

"The mounting feelings of vulnerability come from a mentality that focuses on inequality rather than actual economic situations," Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) Professor Zhu Jinchang said.

"Chinese people have long been accustomed to an egalitarian distribution of wealth from the time of the planned economy. While the reform and opening-up has made everyone better off, it has also widened the income gap. So, more people perceive their social status as declining."

In addition, 37 percent of respondents said they were "overwhelmed" by pressure, while 29 percent said unfair competition made them feel deprived and 16 percent perceived violations of human rights.

Many survey responses resonated with the words of 26-year-old Zhu Shenghua, who quit his job in Beijing and returned to his hometown in Zhejiang province.

"I buried my nose in the books to get into a top university and then put my nose to the grindstone to ensure a bright future," Zhu said.

"But it turns out I have no chance to live respectably in Beijing, since I can hardly afford the down payment on an apartment, even if I were to save my entire salary for 100 months."

Civil servants had fewer complaints, the survey found.

Their primary sources of stress were stiff competition among officials, complicated unwritten rules, heavy workloads and moderate wages.

"Having spent 1,783 days in the realm of officialdom, I have found I am totally different from the powerful man I imagined (I would become)," said Jiang Zongfu, former deputy mayor of Linxiang city, Hunan province.
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