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Does China’s annual average wage reflect the prevailing average?


Latest figures from the State Statistics Bureau show Beijing topping the list of salaries among the 20 provinces and municipal cities that have recently published their income statistics with average annual pay of 77,560 yuan ($12,510) in 2014. However, many Chinese Internet users claim they have been misrepresented by the average salary levels. Most people say that the average wages don't reflect the prevailing average wages. The annual release of average wages turns out to be a trick for the common people. In addition, the social security base and the housing fund base are subject to the average wage. It results in a situation where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Changes are badly needed in this situation. 


As the popular saying goes, a millionaire surnamed Zhang has nine poor neighbors, but every one of them is millionaire on average. Many Internet users satirized the numbers by asking themselves:"why is my wage so high using this way of calculation?"


The noise from the Chinese Internet users about the statistics is fairly predictable, as the thing calculated is only the average, but not the median. If all the statistics are out of question only because the number of highly-paid people is too huge. Beijing owns a huge number of large state-owned enterprises, famous multinational enterprises, private enterprises, high-tech professionals and managerial talents. These people’s higher salaries have greatly elevated the average wage. 


Herein lies the problem: is an average wage a meaningful predictor for the middle class? Median should be published to reflect the current prevailing salaries. For example, rank the 7 million strong Beijing population from low to high in salary, and the salary of those in the middle, at around 3.5 million could reflect the general condition of the society. In other words, classify different levels of salaries into several sections. The section with the greatest number of people can reflect the prevailing wages. Both median and mode are much more meaningful than an average number. 


But why is the median or mode not being released? Feng Nailin, director of China's National Bureau of Statistics' Population and Employment Statistics Department, explained that "there's no better substitute available. If median and mode are required, the salary of each person is needed for the calculation. It would be a tough task, and the current conditions do not allow us to do it”.


Is it really difficult to release a median or mode? Actually, Hong Kong has set a good example for us. The local government does not merely publish a press release, but a PDF document containing nearly 120 pages on the annual average wages. 


When will the State Statistics Bureau go all out to release a median for Chinese people? It's time for the bureau to figure out a method to make the common Chinese people no longer feel disappointed looking at the average salary. 



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