Job prospects good but quality of life turns expats off China, survey finds

China ranks 55 among 65 nations in poll of foreign workers

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 September, 2017, 10:15pm
UPDATED : Friday, 08 September, 2017, 10:15pm

China’s economy and job prospects may be good for expatriates, but many are unsatisfied with its quality of life, leaving it languishing at 55th place in a global survey of expats.

According to the poll by the global network for expats ­InterNations, nearly 70 per cent of foreign residents in China said they were happy with their jobs and about three-quarters rated the country’s economy as favourable, compared to a global average of 56 per cent.

However, China was ranked 55th out of 65 countries this year due mainly to poor performance in quality of life, ease of settling in and family life. Poor medical services and educational options for children were among the top complaints. The ranking represents a drop from last year’s survey, where China was placed 48th out of 67 countries.

The survey polled 13,000 people in 188 countries, and rated Bahrain, Costa Rica and Mexico as the top three nations preferred by the world’s millions of expatriates. Last year’s top three were Taiwan, Malta and Ecuador.

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The average age of respondents in China was 40.5,with 63 per cent of them in a relationship. It is not clear how many foreign residents on the mainland took part in the survey.

There were more than 900,000 foreigners working in China in 2016, up from just 10,000 in the 1980s, according to official data.

One of them is Israeli Eli Beck, founder of EDB-China, which offers business development services between China and Israel. He said he was “very” satisfied with his career on the mainland.

“China is developing fast, meaning that there are plenty of opportunities,” said Beck, who lives in Shanghai but does not speak Putonghua.

“Thirty per cent of Chinese people can be considered as middle class. That means an accumulated large number of potential customers for any product.”

Beck added that Shanghai’s environment was still good, unlike that of Beijing, which suffers from serious air pollution.

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As many as 85 per cent of expats in China were unhappy with the environment, much higher than the global average rate of 23 per cent, due tomost expats in China living in big cities where pollution tends to be worse, according to InterNations.

China’s low ranking in the family life index – 40 out of 45 countries – was largely connected to the health care services for children in the country, which only 4 per cent of expat parents described as very good.

Foreigners also complained about the country’s health and medical care in general. Less than 10 per cent said the quality of care was very good, compared to a global average of 26 per cent.