Chinese consumers are turning to the lottery for money as the economy sputters and youth unemployment soars

Chinese consumers are turning to the lottery for money as the economy sputters and youth unemployment soars
China's President Xi JinpingLintao Zhang
  • Lottery ticket sales in China rose 53.6% in August from a year ago, finance ministry data shows.
  • That coincides with high youth unemployment, which stood at 21.3% when last reported in June.

Chinese lottery ticket sales are surging as the country's consumers look to gain some financial luck amid this year's economic gloom.

Sales hit 52.96 billion yuan ($7.25 billion) in August, marking the biggest month of the year and a 53.6% jump from a year ago, according to finance ministry data cited by state-run media and Reuters.

And in the first eight months of 2023, around $52 billion worth of tickets were sold, a 51.6% increase from the previous year.

The surge in lottery sales came as China's growth has largely sputtered through this year, despite Wall Street hopes for massive growth.

After a first-quarter bounce from the lifting of strict COVID restrictions, consumers and businesses pulled back sharply, while Beijing has made piecemeal attempts to stimulate growth to avoid adding to the country's high debt loads.


Faced with this environment, job prospects have been considerably slim for China's young, with youth unemployment standing at 21.3% in June, when the data was last made available. Beijing authorities have since stopped publishing the metric.

According to Reuters, social media commentators have connected the increasing lottery sales to uncertainty among China's younger population:

"Young people are more likely to win 5 million yuan in the lottery than to earn 5 million from work," a Weibo user said, quoted by the outlet.

"The worse the economy is, the more lottery tickets will be sold," another wrote on the microblog.

The age cohort has made their economic despair clear in previous ways, such as through "zombie-style" poses in this year's graduation photos. And in the spring, temple visitations swung higher, as workforce entrants prayed for financial support.


While some aspects of the Chinese economy have hinted at improvement more recently, growth prospects continue to remain dim for the year.

Corporate borrowing fell to significantly low levels in September, the China Beige Book reported, adding that export growth fell to its lowest since March.

Meanwhile, the country's property market continues to face a slew of bad news, with developer defaults still on the table.