China’s middle class suffers from insomnia, rarely has sex, and is very worried about its future

Worried about the future.
Worried about the future.
Image: Reuters/Damir Sagolj
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Members of China’s surging middle class—already the world’s largest—are not shy about putting their newfound economic power to use. They spend freely on everything from luxury handbags to high-quality seafood to three-story brownstones in Brooklyn. Their lives are tinged, however, with fear and regret.

Their top anxieties are uncertainty about the future, dissatisfaction with reality, and regrets about wasted time, according to a new report from job-posting site Zhaopin.com, one of the China’s biggest. The Beijing-based firm conducted an online survey of nearly 50,000 Chinese people with an annual income of between 100,000 yuan and 500,000 yuan ($15,000 and $73,000). Of the respondents, 67% were male and 33% female. Most were under the age of 37.

Nearly all the respondents said they regularly or occasionally feel anxious. When asked to identify at least one source of such feelings, 71% of them said it’s due to “uncertainty about the future.”

More than a third suffer from insomnia regularly or occasionally, and around 31% have sex less than once a month due to pressure and poor sleep.

Members of the Chinese middle class are not enjoying their lives to the extent that people generally believe, Zhaopin reports. They use most of their money to pay back loans, which presumably are primarily for homes and cars. And they spend more on their children’s education than on their own entertainment. Respondents were asked to pick the three areas where they spend the most.

Meanwhile their top concerns regarding social issues include inflation, food safety, the government’s stricter restrictions on property purchases, and the notorious pollution plaguing many Chinese cities. They also keep a close eye on the geopolitical tensions over the US’s antimissile THAAD deployment in South Korea. Respondents were asked to pick at least one issue that concerns them the most:

More than half of those surveyed agree that they “have met the basic survival needs and are now in pursuit of higher personal development,” while around a third think they’re still “struggling to support the family’s living.”

The report concludes that China’s middle class has a “clear understanding of the present” but has also shown “infinite confusion about the future.”