The sharp improvement in Chinese consumer sentiment this year has been led by 18-24 year olds, who make up our youngest survey group. FTCR data show their sentiment towards the economy and their households’ incomes, finances and discretionary spending have consistently improved at a faster pace than that of our oldest survey group, the over-35s.

This young group was instrumental in lifting our Consumer Index to 74.6 in August, its second-highest reading on record. The difference between the youngest and oldest groups widened to 9.2 points in August 2017, from an average of 4.1 points throughout 2013.

President Xi Jinping’s efforts to project national strength at home and abroad have restored confidence to Chinese households after the Hu Jintao-Wen Jiabao years ended in economic decline and widespread corruption.

The underlying exuberance of our youngest survey group can also be explained by the fact that these respondents came of age during China’s most rapid growth phase, and during the period of fastest growth in household income. Their grandparents’ experience of chi ku — eating bitterness — is even more alien to them than to their parents. This age group has more economic freedom than previous generations, with a greater choice of where to live, work and shop.

Technology has played a role; young Chinese have been empowered by the array of services provided by companies such as Alibaba and Tencent, which now dominate so much of China’s urban economies.

The latest upswing in overall consumer sentiment followed the economy’s stabilisation last year and its associated surge in house prices. Our youngest survey group may not be immune from the feel-good effect of rising asset prices — our most recent quarterly FTCR household survey found 85 per cent of 18-24 year olds said their household owned at least one property, and 26.6 per cent said it owned more than one.

Ben Heubl, Data Visualisation Analyst

FT Confidential Research is an independent research service from the Financial Times, providing in-depth analysis of and statistical insight into China and Southeast Asia. Our team of researchers in these key markets combine findings from our proprietary surveys with on-the-ground research to provide predictive analysis for investors.