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Chinese Salaries in China (2011 Edition)

I previously wrote about how much Chinese people earn, based upon data from 2010. Now, a 2011 edition of the report has been issued, and I thought it might be worthwhile to go over the numbers.

What were the major findings?

  1. “People working in Beijing enjoyed China’s highest average monthly pay of 4,672 yuan”
    Note: This would represent a decrease in pay from the figures reported in 2010 (5,474 RMB/month); this would also mean that Beijing has taken the top-earning spot from Shanghai.
  2. “Nationwide pay hikes averaged 8.5% in 2011.”
    Consider this closely. In your teaching job, were you offered an 8.5% raise in 2011? No? Teacher pay is stagnating. Demand more!

Should we believe these numbers?

Probably not. As many other have observed, grey-market earnings account for a huge proportion of the salary of many Chinese. This is especially true of teachers; parents often choose (or are forced) to pay hongbao to teachers to make sure that their children receive attention from teachers.

On the other hand, though…I’ve a number of white collar Chinese friends in Beijing, and many of them, despite excellent credentials and experience, earn very little and and have rather difficult lives because of it.

Is teaching English in China still a well-paying job, relative to what Chinese earn?

When we consider that the “typical” foreign teacher salary of ~RMB5,000/month paid by public schools is probably equivalent to the wage of  one’s Chinese counterpart, it is difficult to agree with claims that 5,000 kuai is a “high salary”. If you work in a remote area, then 5,000/month may be a prefectly adequate salary; if you live in Beijing, where a taxi ride across the city sets you back 50RMB (1% of your gross salary) or more, RMB 5,000 certainly isn’t a high salary.

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