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Archive for the ‘Economics’ Category

Dog-onomic Indicator

The New York Times recently published an article on the increasing number of pet dogs in China – “People used to be focused on improving their own lives, and they weren’t really acquainted with raising dogs…But with the improvement in the economy, people’s outlooks have changed. There’s a lot of stress in people’s lives, and having a dog is a way to relieve it.”  The number of dogs I’ve seen walking around Beijing would seem to echo this trend, no doubt as a consequence of the rise of China’s middle-upper class and their increasing discretionary income.

The article also makes an interesting point that “Many owners also say China’s one-child policy has fanned enthusiasm for dog ownership as a way to provide companionship to only children in young households and to fill empty nests in homes whose children have grown up.”

BEIJING — Xiangzi — Lucky, in English — is aptly named. A trim Siberian husky, his owner, a sports marketer named Qiu Hong, pampers him with two daily walks, a brace of imported American toys and grooming tools, $300 worth of monthly food and treats and his own sofa in her high-rise apartment. When city life becomes too blasé, Ms. Qiu loads Xiangzi in the car and takes him out for a run — on the trackless steppes of Inner Mongolia, seven hours north.

“It’s a huge grassland. Very far, but very pretty,” she said. “He really likes to scare the sheep and make them run all over the place.”
Metaphorically speaking, Xiangzi is not just a dog, but a social phenomenon — and, perhaps, a marker of how quickly this nation is hurtling through its transformation from impoverished peasant to first-world citizen.

Twenty years ago, there were hardly any dogs in Beijing, and the few that were here stood a chance of landing on a dinner plate. It remains possible even today to find dog-meat dishes here. But it is far easier to find dog-treat stores, dog Web sites, dog social networks, dog swimming pools — even, for a time recently, a bring-your-dog cinema and a bring-your-dog bar on Beijing’s downtown nightclub row. Rest of Article

The 10% annual growth in number of dogs in Beijing is a little unsettling mostly because I find the dogs in the city to be rather annoying – they’re about the size of pigeons and they yap at the sight of anything that moves. I frequently have to dodge dogs on the street while riding on my bicycle and find that owners often fail to clean up after their animals. But I suppose with an increasing income gap the “logical” next step for these wealthy dog lovers is to hire some cheap labor to clean their mess.

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