Changes in Assets Held by the Middle Class during Social Transition: An Analysis Based on Surveys of Urban Residents in the Pearl River Delta from 1986 to 2004

in Residency, Class, and Community in the Contemporary Chinese City
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Abstract

This article uses data from surveys of urban residents in the Pearl River Delta from 1986 to 2004 to describe the stock of assets held by the middle class, how that stock changed, and how these data compare with those of lower-income strata. We find that the new middle class (which constitutes the majority of the middle class) holds significant and increasing assets, thanks to high and stable incomes; that stocks of financial assets are increasing more slowly and there is little investment in negotiable securities, both due to a long term slump in the market and more importantly to the new middle class’s consumption culture; and that asset choices are affected by state policy on distribution and consumption.

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