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Where is everybody in Shanghai?

5 PM in Shanghai - Many people still didn't come back from Chinese New Year?

This afternoon I was talking to a colleague who told me that he felt that it was stil unusually quiet in Shanghai after Chinese New Year. I told him I had the same feeling, because there were hardly any traffic jams on the highways today. Chinese New Year’s Eve was last week Sunday, so 12 days ago, and most people should be back to work by now, but I wonder if maybe more people decided not to return to the big city.

I have no proof for this (well, except that Scott’s nanny decided to stay in her hometown), but it feels it is more quiet than other years. And high inflation plus more opportunities in inland China may lead people to decide to stay closer to their hometowns. I assume it will be much more busy again next week (the picture above was taken at 5 PM today from my office, normally a time with traffic jams), but I would not mind too much if people stay away a bit longer.

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  1. I think what we are seeing these days is more an effect of local migrant workers not returning (yet). Factories may encourage them to stay away a bit longer because their order books are not filled like last year.

    I don’t believe China Briefing’s argument that expats would be replaced because of higher government payments. It is a general trend that has been ongoing for years that there will be less expats in China, but social benefit payments won’t suddenly accelerate that. I also don’t know anybody in my expat network that will have to leave China because of these higher payments.