Xinhua News Agency

Illness is the main cause of urban poverty, survey finds

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 November, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 June, 2015, 4:12pm

Illness has become the main cause of urban poverty, a major government study has found.

Some 64.9 per cent of households who responded to the survey had at least one or more family members suffering serious or chronic diseases, according to a report by the Ministry of Civil Affairs released by Xinhua.

Many families have to resort to government subsidies when their breadwinners lose the ability to work. They are also saddled with heavy debts in order to pay medical fees.

According to the survey, 25.9 per cent of respondents found the medical fees were too high. Another 33.7 per cent also have at least one disabled family member.

The survey was conducted by Renmin University and Nankai University between September 23 and October 23. Some 6,505 questionnaires in 662 cities were received from beneficiaries of the Minimum Living Standard Scheme, which is designed to help the plight of the urban poor.

Critics say the scheme only reaches a small number of those who are entitled to the benefits, but the government says it is expanding the scheme to gradually replace unemployment insurance and assistance to laid off workers.