Beijing: The gulf between the rich and the poor has widened in China even as five percent of the country's total population now have annual incomes of at least 300,000 yuan (about $45,000) after tax.
Results of the study carried out in more than 10 major cities show about 50 million Chinese have passed the 300,000-yuan mark, while five million more are taking home in excess of one million yuan a year after tax, China Daily reported Friday.
The primary field of investment for those in the 'million club' - most of whom are aged 25 to 50 - is real estate investment, said Lu Xiao, assistant professor at Fudan University's school of management, who led the research.
Information was collected in 2008 in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, as well as second-tier cities in provinces like Shanxi and Fujian and across the Yangtze River Delta.
However, the rising incomes have done little to slow China's widening wealth gap, the report said.
The World Bank put the country's Gini coefficient -- a key indicator of inequality -- at 0.47 in 2005, passed the 'red line', and experts say that figure has only increased in recent years.
A 2009 sample survey discovered that the income gap is far larger than the number given by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), said Wang Xiaolu, deputy director of the China Reform Foundation's national economic research institute.
According to the survey of about 4,000 families in more than 60 cities, per capita annual disposable income of high-income families was 139,000 yuan in 2008. The figure recorded by the NBS was 43,000 yuan.
Results for low-income families, however, were fairly similar, with both organizations putting the per capita annual disposable income at about 5,000 yuan in 2008.
Analysts have warned that a widening wealth gap can highlight several major problems.