In the next 10 years, Chinese sei-katsu-sha will shift from overconcentrating in metropolises to migrating to cities that suit their desired lifestyle
Tokyo—January 11, 2023—Marking its 10th anniversary in 2022, Hakuhodo Institute of Life and Living Shanghai (HILL Shanghai) today announced the 10th set of findings from The Dynamics of Chinese People, a joint research project conducted with the School of Advertising at the Communication University of China. The theme of the research this year was “Where and how will Chinese sei-katsu-sha* seek to live in the next 10 years?”
The population of China as a whole is peaking, and has already begun to decline in some cities. Other cities, however, are still experiencing net inflows. The latest demographic statistics point to a non-registered population** of 376 million, up 170% in the last 10 years (Seventh National Population Census, National Bureau of Statistics of China).
Internal migration in China has almost always meant movement from inland to coastal areas, and rural areas and small regional cities to metropolises. Asked about their intended migration patterns in the future, however, sei-katsu-sha who are thinking about migrating in the next 10 years responded that they will focus less on overconcentrating in large cities. Indeed, some of them are considering relocating to a smaller city or living and working in multiple places.
Many of these sei-katsu-sha also expect that the convenience of life in regional cities will improve to the level of Tier 1 cities*** like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, and that the evolution and development of facilities for the elderly will reduce the burden of care-giving, highlighting another trend among Chinese sei-katsu-sha, which is a focus on aspects other than economic development, such as history, culture, recreational opportunities, climate and the environment, when selecting a city in which to live.
To take a closer look at the changing attitudes among sei-katsu-sha, we conducted in-depth interviews and a quantitative survey of those actively involved in inter-city migration, and identified the following three emerging lifestyles.
(1) Husband and wife each having an independent living space, prioritizing their own career and freedom
“I’m not willing to sacrifice my career for my family. (Living separately and) having fewer opportunities to see my child and husband makes me cherish the moments when we are together, particularly because of a sense of guilt, thus helping to maintain our family ties.” (Ms. L, 32, married with a child, Xianyang)
(2) Pursuing relative quality of life by moving to a city with a lower cost of living, even at the risk of lower pay
“I feel relaxed at work (thanks to my previous experience). I can focus on quality of life, delineating between my work and personal life. I can afford a house and car here.” (Mr. Y, 49, married with a child, Fushun)
(3) Migrating to/between cities to optimize their pace of life
“For me, migration means changing my mental and physical pace and regulating the pace of life. Despite the stress of relocating, I believe it will bring positive benefits in the long run, in terms of skills and life experience.” (Ms. H, 26, single, Shanghai)
In China up until now, people generally remained “adaptive,” adapting (yìng) to the environment (yù) of their hometown or a large city after migration. While adapting, they had to change themselves by suppressing their individuality and developing unfamiliar habits and new skills. Improvements in infrastructure and greater convenience in regional cities, accompanied by the evolution of values among sei-katsu-sha, however, have enabled many to choose a city that suits their lifestyle or to move between different cities depending on their purpose. HILL Shanghai envisages an increase in the number of sei-katsu-sha who seek a yùn yù life, in which they more proactively decide and manage (yùn) the region and environment (yù) in which they live.
At the unveiling of the findings of The Dynamics of Chinese People 2022, we presented a detailed picture of these new sei-katsu-sha enjoying yùn yù lifestyles characterized by inter-city migration, and identified hints for companies’ marketing activities in a future China with a rising number of sei-katsu-sha whose lives straddle multiple cities.
Please email HILL Shanghai for a summary report on the research (available in Japanese, Chinese and English) and a seminar video (in Chinese) at: https://www.shenghuozhe.cn/
* “Sei-katsu-sha” is a term Hakuhodo uses to describe people not simply as consumers, but as fully rounded individuals with their own lifestyles, aspirations and dreams.
** In China, each city has its own population register. “Non-registered population” refers to those who have left their city of registration and live in another city where they are not registered.
*** Chinese cities are classified into five tiers. Tier 1 cities include Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.