CAFI Insight | Men or women? Who determines the financial health of households—The Report of Financial Inclusion Development in China (2022)

In 2020, CAFI proposed the CAFIFH Index, an index for measuring the financial health of households. This article will introduce the financial health of blue-collar workers and women and the application of these indicators and the CAFIFH Index based on the survey data.


Blue-collar workers’ financial health

Blue-collar workers refer to individuals who perform manual labor jobs, typically in manufacturing, construction, maintenance, or other similar industries. The term “blue-collar” originates in the 1950s in the United States from the practice of manual laborers wearing durable, practical clothing made of blue denim or cotton, as opposed to the white collars worn by office workers. Unified production skills, professional norms, and a certain level of organizational ability are the essential features of blue-collar workers.


Data shows that in China there are about 400 million blue-collar workers and only about 200 million white-collar workers. As an important labor force in social production, the financial health of blue-collar workers represents the financial health of a large portion of households in China.


In 2020, CAFI and Fujinfu  (a blue-collar digital technology services platform established by Foxconn) conducted a study on the financial health of the blue-collar group, in which we replaced some questions that could better reflect their characteristics. The study found that the average score of blue-collar workers’ financial health was 56.9, slightly lower than 60, showing that this group was in a financial sub-health condition.


Their financial health has the following characteristics:

  • Poor financial health,

  • Good balance of revenues and expenditures and debt management,

  • Small and illiquid assets,

  • Weak risk tolerance,

  • Strong confidence in the future


Women’s financial health

Most Chinese women are highly self-aware and increasingly eager to create personal value. Economic development and better education provide women with more job opportunities; they are no longer just “housewives” and can realize their life value through different careers. According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2020 released by World Economic Forum, China’s female labor force participation rate was 69%, one of the highest in the world. It means that most Chinese women have independent sources of income and greater purchasing power.


In the coming decades, women are expected to be more financially independent and free. As women’s economic and social status improves, “She Economy” is becoming increasingly prevalent. With more and more credit and wealth management products, and many other financial products, the soundness of women’s financial behavior is critical to their financial health status and the achievement of their future life goals. What’s more, as the decision makers in the family’s finances and other aspects in most cases, the financial health of women is inextricably linked to the financial health of their family.


In 2021, CAFI and Changtou (an online platform for wealth management education) conducted a research project on women’s financial health. Based on 2,272 questionnaires, the average and median scores for the comprehensive financial health of men and women were both slightly above 60, with good performance in saving, borrowing, and debt, but poor performance in financial stress and insurance. Women scored higher than men in comprehensive financial health and outperformed in daily income and expenditure management and financial resilience, while men had the edge on investing in the future and financial capacity.


We have three suggestions to improve women’s financial health;

  • Improve insurance coverage.

  • Make long-term financial planning and rationally allocate financial instruments.

  • Improve financial literacy and understand financial risks.