Sat, July 13

The Truth About Chinese Savings in 2023: Average Savings per Person is 96,000 Yuan

In 2023, the average deposit per capita is 200,000 RMB, yes, you heard it right. This is a recent report I came across. According to the report, the total amount of RMB deposits in 2023 is 284 trillion yuan. Some calculations show that this is equivalent to an average deposit per capita of nearly 200,000 RMB. If we calculate based on a family of five, that would be 1 million RMB. So, where should I go to collect my 200,000 RMB?

After reading the above data, I believe everyone has keenly captured a keyword. I have an average asset of hundreds of billions with Jack Ma, and an average height of 1.9 meters with Yao Ming. So, what is the real average deposit per capita in 2023? Who are you being compared to? How much money do you need to save to be able to lie down and not work?

The data of an average deposit of 200,000 yuan per person itself is problematic, as the total deposit balance of 284 trillion yuan includes deposits from residents, enterprises, as well as banks’ corporate and interbank deposits, a large portion of which do not come from individual accounts of ordinary people, but from companies, banks, and the government. So, how much are residents’ deposits exactly? The answer is 135 trillion yuan, based on this data, the average deposit per person is 96,000 yuan. According to the standard of a family of five, a household needs to have 480,000 yuan in deposits to be considered meeting the standard. So, have you met this standard? Let’s focus more specifically on young people. Recently, a research institute released a report on young people’s deposits in 2023, with about one-fifth of people having deposits below 10,000 yuan, and over 30% of people having deposits ranging from 10,000 to 100,000 yuan. 100,000 yuan can be considered an important dividing line, if your deposit has exceeded 100,000 yuan, then you are already ahead of 53.7% of people. So, in which range does your deposit fall? You can compare it yourself.

As working hours increase, people’s savings tend to gradually increase as well. However, when the working time reaches over 5 years, some individuals may experience a decrease or even depletion of their savings due to reasons such as purchasing a house, a car, or getting married at this stage. According to data, among those with over 10 years of work experience, 15% temporarily have no savings, and nearly 40% have savings of less than 10,000 yuan. This data is already relatively optimistic, as the survey sample consists of over 70% of individuals born after 1990 and 1995, and nearly 90% of them are from first-tier and second-tier cities. This indicates that in some economically developed cities in China, some young people, despite living in affluent areas, have not been able to save much money. If the sample is expanded to include individuals of all age groups, the savings data may be even lower. Therefore, the previously mentioned average savings of 96,000 yuan per person may actually be overly optimistic.

Wealth redistribution has been done by whom? It is done by the affluent population. According to the 2023 China High Net Worth Family Cash Flow Management Report released by the Hurun Research Institute, the number of affluent families in China with a net worth of over 6 million RMB has reached 5.18 million households, those with a net worth of over 10 million RMB have reached 2.11 million households, and those with a net worth of over 100 million RMB have reached 38,000 households. Among them, Guangdong remains the province with the most wealthy individuals, with 307,000 high net worth families having a net worth of over 10 million RMB, followed by Beijing in second place and Shanghai in third. The total assets of these high net worth families have increased from 16 trillion RMB in 2021 to 16.4 trillion RMB in 2022, which is 1.4 times the total GDP of China for the year. Among these assets, investable assets have reached 67 trillion RMB, accounting for 40% of the total wealth.

In 2022, Hurun once admitted that after years of effort, they had only identified 3,000 well-known billionaires in China, with at least 4,000 unknown billionaires. The number of billionaires found is not large, and a billionaire with tens of millions in savings could lend money to 100 people without savings, allowing each person to have savings of 100,000 yuan. Another report more truthfully reveals the wealth gap. According to data analyzed in China Merchants Bank’s 2022 annual report, they categorize their clients into three groups: the first group is private banking clients, with assets exceeding 10 million yuan numbering just over 30,000 people; the second group is Golden Key clients, with assets exceeding 500,000 yuan totaling 4 million people; the third group can be understood as ordinary people, with assets ranging from zero to 500,000 yuan, totaling nearly 180 million people. This data reveals two shocking facts: nearly 98% of clients have an average household asset of only 12,500 yuan, and it’s important to note that this is the average per household, not per person; the second fact is the proportion of people, with only 0.07% of private banking clients holding total assets exceeding the sum of the other two categories of clients. In simple terms, the wealth of these over 130,000 people exceeds the total wealth of 1.83 billion people.

Despite everyone’s efforts to work hard, why is it difficult to save money? According to a 2023 survey on youth savings, the main reasons are nothing but low income and high expenses. Let’s first look at the income situation. How bad is the employment environment in 2023? Some people answer this way: working hard for decades, but returning to the level before liberation. A company is recruiting a new media operations intern with a monthly salary of only 3000 yuan. Although there are weekends off, they have to handle 200 resumes every day, and college students are competing to apply. Meanwhile, despite low income, expenses remain high. According to the 2023 data, the average per capita consumption expenditure of residents nationwide is 26,700 yuan, with housing consumption accounting for 22%. Housing is truly a major headache for the working class. For those without a house, rent is one of the biggest expense items. Statistics from some organizations show that in 2019, the rent-to-income ratio in some cities was 33% in Shenzhen, 31% in Beijing, and 28% in Shanghai. It can be seen that one-third of income is used to pay rent. The generally considered reasonable rent-to-income ratio should be around 25%.

Homeowners usually face the greatest debt pressure from mortgage loans. According to data from a survey on the asset and liability situation of urban residents’ families in China, over 40% of households have a mortgage. Families in need of buying a house typically have a debt-to-income ratio of 33%, with the worst performance seen in households headed by individuals aged between 26 and 35. These individuals are usually part of the group that saves money diligently, but their ability to withstand risks is fragile. A decline in housing prices could potentially wipe out their savings of five to ten years. I believe that the purpose of saving money is to buy a car, while buying a house is just to repay car loans and mortgages. Some people save money in order to retire early. On short video platforms, one can often see content like this: a 30-year-old master’s degree holder saved 1 million yuan to retire early and live on interest in Yunnan; a DINK couple born in the 1980s saved 3 million yuan to retire early; a 24-year-old woman in Hunan with a monthly salary of 8000 yuan is preparing to save money to retire early, and so on. Despite being in the prime of their careers, why are so many people planning for retirement? The reasons behind this may be related to a line from a sketch by Zhao Benshan. By the end of 2022, China’s population aged 60 and above had reached 280 million, accounting for nearly 20%. It is estimated that by 2035, this number will exceed 400 million, with the proportion surpassing 30%, entering a stage of severe aging. Currently, China’s basic pension system operates on a pay-as-you-go basis, meaning that the social security contributions paid by current workers are used to pay the pensions of retirees.

However, due to the trends of aging population and declining birth rates, the number of working-age individuals contributing to pension funds is gradually increasing, while the number of retirees is also growing. As a result, individuals still need to rely more on themselves. This has sparked a discussion online about how much money one needs to save in order to achieve a “lying flat retirement”. Various opinions have been shared, with some saying 5 million, some saying 2 million, and others saying 1.5 million. However, it is generally believed that the path to lying flat is similar, which involves depositing this money in a bank that offers 4% to 5% interest. Calculating at 4%, depositing 1.5 million in a bank would yield 60,000 yuan in interest annually, equivalent to 5,000 yuan per month, enough to live a relatively comfortable life in a second or third-tier city. While the idea sounds appealing, there are two concerns that are worrying. Firstly, how to acquire this 1.5 million, with netizens suggesting the need to save up to a billion. Secondly, the interest rates offered by banks may not sustain the comfortable lifestyle you desire. By the end of December last year, major banks began the third round of deposit rate cuts, with the 5-year fixed deposit rate of SEBC already dropping to 2%, leading to a surge in the society’s enthusiasm for saving. From a macro perspective, this is not a good thing, as without consumption, the products produced will remain unsold, businesses will struggle to operate, factories will halt production, leading to more unemployment. People are becoming more cautious in their spending, falling into a vicious cycle.

We can see that the government is taking measures to stimulate consumption, such as issuing consumption vouchers with discounts like “spend 100 get 20 off” or “spend 500 get 100 off”. Although these discounts may seem attractive, many people still choose to keep their money in their pockets and not spend it, essentially saving 100%. Economists evaluate this situation by pointing out that consumption cannot be achieved through stimulation alone. Only by solving issues related to housing, education, healthcare, etc., can consumption naturally recover. Some netizens have pointed out that while everyone is being taught how to spend money, the importance of earning money is often overlooked. Ultimately, it seems that people are not optimistic about the money in their pockets and their future prospects.

While deposit data may appear average, when focusing on individuals, the reality cannot be ignored. If people are not optimistic about the future, they will naturally feel the need to save for a rainy day. After all, many people consider factors such as whether their mortgage is paid off, if they have enough money for their children’s milk and tuition fees, and if their parents’ retirement funds are sufficient when planning their finances. With various burdens weighing on them, few people dare to spend easily. Confidence and wealth are key; with these two in hand, who would fear not being able to consume?