Despite rising housing prices, Han Jianhua, an assistant director of a furniture company in Fuzhou, Fujian province, feels confident he can buy a home in the near future. "A bicycle was all I owned when I started working five years ago. Now I drive my own car to work. My next plan is to buy an apartment and settle in the city," he said.
Han"s monthly pay was about 3,000 yuan ($440) when he started as an ordinary employee. Thanks to multiple promotions, his income has doubled.
"With the addition of my wife"s salary, and after some time, we believe it will not be a problem to buy a home," he said.
The 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2012 proposed increasing people"s incomes and boosting their "sense of gain". A series of measures have been implemented over the past five years to ensure that the country"s "centenary goal" of building a "moderately prosperous society in all respects" will be realized by 2020.
In addition to continuous job creation in both urban and rural areas, the central government has worked with local authorities to raise standards for pensions, minimum wages and social welfare in recent years.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, per capita disposable income in the country was 23,821 yuan in 2016, up 44.3 percent from 2012 - an actual increase of 33.3 percent after adjusting for inflation.
Meanwhile, the income gap between urban and rural residents is narrowing. Per capita disposable income of rural residents was 12,363 yuan last year, an actual increase of 36.3 percent over 2012.
Zhang Yan of Jilin province never figured he would be able to step away from farm work and spend weeks traveling around the country each year.
"I make tens of thousands of yuan from farming and machinery rentals each year," the resident of Taiping Town in Changchun said. "We no longer need to worry about food. We now want to see more of the world."
Higher incomes have changed consumption patterns in China.
Han Haoxuan, a native of Nanchang, Jiangxi province, enjoys going to see movies and live theater in his spare time.
"The performance market has boomed in recent years, so we have more opportunities to attend the theater and enjoy the shows," he said.
China"s box office reached 45.7 billion yuan in 2016, attracting 1.3 billion moviegoers, according to data from the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television.
Per capita consumption in the country rose to 17,111 yuan in 2016, up 33.1 percent from 2012. Average per capita consumption on cultural, educational and entertainment activities registered an annual increase of 9.1 percent between 2012 and 2016.
Spending on meat, eggs, and seafood products in rural areas grew as people sought better living standards, as did purchases of electrical appliances and cars. In 2012, there were six vehicles per 100 rural residents. Last year, it was 17.
"The change in consumption habits has brought a transformation in supply and demand that, in the end, promotes the growth of relevant industries and economic development," said Jin Xiaotong of Jilin University"s business school.
The 18th CPC National Congress set a goal for rural and urban residents" per capita incomes to double by 2020 over what they were in 2010. By 2016, per capita disposable income nationwide registered an actual increase of 62.6 percent over the 2010 level.
"Looking at the current situation, the income-doubling goal is likely to be realized before 2020," said Gao Wenshu, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences" Institute of Population and Labor Economics.
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