It is not so much the news that rising food and property prices are causing discontent among China’s urban poor as the fact that it is being publicly admitted to. The rare admission comes from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, which has been taking the pulse of daily life since the early 1990s, if without the frankness of its newest report.
However, the alarm-triggering stats in the report may not be the ones on double-digit urban inflation buried under the rosier macroeconomic ones (and the flip side of more expensive food in the cities is richer farmers in the countryside; Beijing worries greatly about the growing urban-rural wealth divide and the Academy says rural incomes rose by an estimated 8% last year, the fastest rate in 11 years).
But the Academy also notes that one in five graduates of Chinese universities last year has still to find a job. That would be a million people, a worrying number to economists if it means that a booming economy is failing to generate sufficient graduate-level new jobs, and to politicians , who won’t want well educated young people hanging around cities with time on idle hands.