China's Legions of 'Housing Slaves'

Hefty mortgages crowd out all other spending
Residential buildings stand in the Pudong area of Shanghai on Feb. 2 Photograph by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

Sherry Sheng permitted herself one final splurge before joining China’s swelling ranks of homeowners: a 4,000 yuan ($642) black fur jacket. “I could never afford such a luxury after I start repaying my housing loans next month,” says the Shanghai policewoman. Servicing the two mortgages on the 1.1 million yuan one-bedroom Sheng bought on the city’s western outskirts will eat up about 70 percent of her salary.

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