Chinese people relax while Beijing calls on consumers spending

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As China demanded its population spend more to help stabilise the economy, a survey by the country’s statistics bureau showed that an average Chinese person slept longer and ate more slowly than they did a decade ago.

A typical citizen slept nine hours and 19 minutes a day in 2018 – 17 minutes longer than they did in 2008, the survey by the National Bureau of Statistics on how Chinese spend their time found.

While the average man slept nine hours and 16 minutes, the average woman slept six minutes longer than that.

In 2013, a poll by Gallup, a US consultancy, found that the average American slept 6.8 hours a day.

Chinese people also ate more slowly compared to 2008, when a similar survey was carried out. They spent an hour and 44 minutes each day eating, up by four minutes from 2008.

Jin Hong, a statistician with the bureau, said the Chinese are living “a healthier lifestyle” compared to 10 years ago.

But the trends may be at odds with China’s efforts to encourage domestic consumption to support economic growth, which is at its slowest pace in close to three decades.

China is planning another set of incentives this year which are intended to encourage the country’s one billion consumers to buy more items such as cars and home appliances, Ning Jizhe, director of the National Bureau of Statistics of China and a senior state planner, said two weeks ago.

China needs the consumer to spend more as the trade war with the United States pressures the economy.

While watching television remained the most common way for most Chinese to spend their leisure time, an average person spent an hour and 40 minutes in front of the TV last year, down by almost 30 minutes from a decade ago, the survey found.

They also spent eight minutes more on workouts than in 2008.

The survey found that reading was more common among groups who earned comparatively well. People who made more than 10,000 yuan (US$1,479) a month spent 20 minutes reading every day in 2018, compared to six minutes among those who earned less than 2,000 yuan.

About one fifth of the former group has a reading habit, compared to around 6 per cent of the latter.

Women took care of far more housework than men, although the gap has narrowed in the past decade. An average Chinese woman spent more than two hours on housework every day, while a man spent an average of 45 minutes on those duties. The difference was down by almost half an hour from 10 years earlier.

The gap in housework between the two genders is set against the small difference in time spent at work. An average man in China spent seven hours and 52 minutes on his job each day, while an average woman worked half an hour less in 2018.

In 2018, an average Chinese person spent about two-and-a-half hours on the internet, compared with 14 minutes a decade ago.

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