Science, Tech & Environment

China's homeowner woes

(You talked with some people who are living in tents not because their homes were destroyed but they're afraid of what might happen next.) I came across a tent city and one 52 year old factory worker I talked to, I asked him about his apartment. He said there was not much damage and he said when the 1976 earthquake happened, there was an aftershock which was far more damaging and he doesn't want to take chances. he said his apartment is not insured and I asked why. He answered, if you own your apartment, you don't need property insurance. And he said an earthquake like this only comes around every couple decades and if there is a disaster like this, the government should compensate me. He's part of the generation that believes the government will provide and even though that's gone now, that mentality remains. (Why would the government not deliver if it has been? Is the government not going to provide for these people now?) It will to some extent, but the question is how much. The government has provided a lot of relief and recovery. There's one estimate that for survivors, they'll be compensated with about $100 per lost family member or one month's salary. For people who don't have life insurance, that's not going to take them very far, and this is no longer a welfare state. Older people still linger on the old ways of living. (Have insurance companies rushed into China?) More people bough life insurance than homeowners' but it's still only about 5% of the population that's insured, as opposed to about 75% in America. (Any other observations while you were out today?) One thing that's very different for foreign correspondents covering this story is that the Chinese government seems to have decided that access for foreign journalists is not a bad thing.

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