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Four Takeaways from China's Annual Economic and Social Development Statistics Report

Mobile continues to lead broadband connections among China’s growing population

March 9, 2017 | Mobile

In late February, the National Bureau of Statistics China (NBS) released its annual report on the country’s social and economic development. The report provides an overview of a range of topics in 2016, including population growth, shifting demographics, the labor force, retail sales and inflation—to name just a few. Here are some takeaways distilled from the topically wide-ranging report.

No. 1: Mobile Broadband Continues to Outshine Fixed Broadband

In case you needed any more proof about the mobile-first nature of China’s population, the NBS reported that mobile broadband connections numbered 940.75 million at the end of last year, compared with 297.21 million fixed broadband connections. The number of mobile broadband connections—which include 3G and 4G—increased 304.1% between 2012 and 2016, while fixed broadband grew just 69.7% over the same period.

According to the country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), 4G LTE connections in China totaled 769.9 million in 2016, while 3G connections reached 170.8 million.

No. 2: Express Package Shipments Grow in the Want-It-Now Economy

Riding on the back of the country’s ecommerce explosion, the delivery industry shipped 31.3 billion express packages in 2016. Between 2014 and 2016, the number of express shipments climbed steadily at around 50% per year. eMarketer estimates retail ecommerce sales in China, excluding travel, will reach $1.26 trillion this year.

No. 3: Average Disposable Income Rises, with Spending Directed to Food and Housing

Average Disposable Income per Capita in China, 2012-2016 (thousands of Chinese yuan renminbi and % change*)

Annual disposable income, as measured on a per capita basis, increased 6.3% to hit RMB23,821 ($3,600) in 2016. Unsurprisingly, average per capita disposable income was higher among urban residents, at RMB33,616 ($5,060), while those in rural areas earned an average of RMB12,363 ($1,860).

More than half of average spending per capita was on food and beverages (30.1%) and housing (21.9%). Telecom and communications accounted for 13.7% of spending.

No. 4: China’s Urban Migration Continues

China’s urban population increased by 21.8 million people last year, according to the NBS, equating to around 57.4% of the country’s residents. China had a total population of 1.38 billion at the end of 2016. Men made up 51.2% of the population, while the number of people ages 15 and younger increased by 2.7 million vs. 2015, reaching 244.4 million.

—Man-Chung Cheung

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