Growth in China ends at city limits

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Although China's boxoffice shot up more than 20% for a fifth year in a row in 2008, going to the movies remains, for the most part, an urban luxury, government data on rural household spending show.

According to Ministry of Agriculture statistics, rural Chinese households spent an average of only 139.3 yuan ($20.30) all of last year on entertainment such as books and films.

Each rural household spent an average of $50.90 on "cultural-related services" in 2008, of which $30.50 was devoted to child education, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

The average amount rural Chinese spent on personal entertainment in 2008 was only 29 cents higher than what they spent in 2007, a massive slowdown in growth from 2006, when rural Chinese increased their annual entertainment spending by $3.71.

Ma Yichang, a farmer from Jiangzhuang village in Shandong province, told Xinhua that his primary entertainment is television and sometimes folk-art performances. He did not buy a book or watch a movie last year, he said.

China has about 4,000 movie screens, up from 2,668 at the end of 2005, data from the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television show. (partialdiff)
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