No Comparison I’ll Wager

Well, I’ve been looking at some figures (mostly that I’ve guessed at) regarding Chinese wages verses Canadian wages. I’ve been wondering for some time how the two compare. I mean assuming anyone’s checked the label on everything they own lately, it’s strikingly obvious that Chinese people make shit compared to Western wages … but what I was really curious about is how that compares to the cost of living in both places. So here’s a little (unqualified) breakdown:

Note: All figures are approximate and from my experience.

Average Monthly Income (working 40h/wk. @ $7.50/h): $1,300 / 8,860RMB

Essential Expenses:
Rent: $350 / 2,380RMB
Bills: $100 / 680RMB
Food: $200 / 1,360RMB
Total: $650
Percentage of Income for Essentials: 50%

Average Monthly Income (working 48h/wk.): $147 / 1,000RMB

Essential Expenses:
Rent: $44 / 300RMB
Bills: $15 / 100RMB
Food: $66 / 450RMB
Total: $125 / 850RMB
Percentage of Income for Essentials: 85%

And for shits and giggles…
A Foreigner Teacher Working in China:
Average Monthly Income (working 40h/wk. – not common): $1,176 / 8,000RMB

Essential Expenses:
Rent: $0 / 0RMB (provide by school)
Bills: $15 / 100RMB
Food: $66 / 450RMB
Total: $81 / 550RMB
Percentage of Income for Essentials: 7%

Additional Notes: Rent and bills are based on a shared apartment, and bills includes only the essentials (water, heat, electricity, gas, phone). Food for all is assuming cooking at home and budgeting.

As you can see, it’s a pretty big difference. I mean, obviously the English teacher thing is going to be extremely different, but even the 35% difference between low-end Canadian jobs and low-end Chinese jobs… basically you work more for less here.

I wonder if the government is not really eager to change things here because of the whole ‘idle hands’ idea. But it’s easy to understand why Chinese people are generally just fantastic at saving; when you’re living that close to the red line, there’s not a lot of forgiveness if something bad or unexpected happens.

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