China fact of the day

by on January 1, 2014 at 2:33 pm in Current Affairs | Permalink

More than 61 million children — about one-fifth of the kids in China — live in villages without their parents. Most are the offspring of peasants who have flocked to cities in one of the largest migrations in human history. For three decades, the migrants’ cheap labor has fueled China’s rise as an economic juggernaut. But the city workers are so squeezed by high costs and long hours that many send their children to live with elderly relatives in the countryside.

There is more here, via David Wessel.

8 January 1, 2014 at 3:11 pm

At least they have families.

Kevin January 1, 2014 at 4:15 pm

The extended family generally has a larger role in childrearing in China than in Western societies. The idea that the immediate parents are absent isn’t too earth shattering.

Moreover, it can be economically and socially advantageous for more productive young (and middle aged) parents to focus on working and for less productive older grandparents to focus on domestic affairs. Theoretically grandparents are also more mature and experienced so they would be better at nurturing children.

KSZX January 1, 2014 at 9:20 pm

Agree, In most cases, they are probably being taken care of by their grandparents.

Due to the Hukou systems, many children wouldn’t be able to receive proper education (and other social benefits) if they also moved away from their home town.

Dismalist January 1, 2014 at 4:37 pm

Agree with 8 and Kevin: This is not a problem, but a solution.

Social scientists and journalists invent social problems.

carlospln January 2, 2014 at 12:12 am

@ (the splendidly monikered) Dismalist: life is cheap in Asia, then, n’est ce pas?

the proles should buck up and take it – globalisation uber alles!

Last, is it true that Libertarians lack the ‘empathy’ gene?

carlospln January 2, 2014 at 12:13 am

ps ‘small steps toward a MUCH better world’

Jimbino January 1, 2014 at 6:28 pm

Didn’t Londoners send their children off to the countryside when threatened by the Blitz? Didn’t Amerikans send off East-Coast orphans to the West? Big deal.

Ray Lopez January 1, 2014 at 8:42 pm

Yes, a trivial stat. A more impressive stat is that 758 people are killed each and every day in China in road accidents (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_traffic-related_death_rate) Compare to France, which has one-third the rate, and the Philippines and USA, which are more like France, and Korea which is more like China (when visiting Korea I saw many accidents, and keep in mind for every death there are several non-fatal accidents). Imagine if that many Chinese died due to the actions of a foreign power, it would be an act of war, yet because the Chinese do it to themselves, they tolerate it.

chuck martel January 1, 2014 at 10:52 pm

There’s a billion people there, and more and more of them rookies behind the wheel. What would you propose, making them continue to ride their primitive bikes? They’ll figure the auto transport thing out before long.

Alexei Sadeski January 2, 2014 at 2:55 am

It’s as if these humans you study actually care about motivations and intentions. What more have you discovered?

Max Factor January 2, 2014 at 12:03 pm

Boo – Ray Lopez kicking off 2014 with a weak post

chuck martel January 1, 2014 at 10:58 pm

Most parents, with the exception of the idle rich that look on their kids as an inconvenience and send them away to schools as soon as they can get them out of the house, love their children and want to them to be near. Sadly, the rural Chinese have acquired the same obsession with “stuff” as the pseudo-civilized West and are having a hard time making the transition from the village to the megaopolis.

Rahul January 2, 2014 at 12:34 am

There’s a qualitative difference between a mega-rich mom sending off her kids so as to not cramp her lifestyle and a poor Chinese couple that moves to a city for a little more than subsistence wages & the chance to give their kids a better future.

jmo January 2, 2014 at 10:58 am

the idle rich that look on their kids as an inconvenience and send them away to schools as soon as they can get them out of the house

For allmost all of human history nrealy everyone who could afford it had someone else raise their children. The idea that respectible people would raise their own children is a very recent and ahistorical idea.

Max Factor January 2, 2014 at 12:01 pm

Yes, in Manhattan it’s very rare for the power couples to raise their own kids. Although to be fair, even those making $500K in NYC may need their spouse to work because the real estate is priced so very high. NYC Nannies get $15 per hour and access to the refrigerator, not too bad, especially if one engages in some light blackmail on the side. And the good looking male nannies can have affairs with the moms because most of the moms are very sad and susceptible to romance.

Mr. Econotarian January 2, 2014 at 3:35 pm

My father in law growing up in WWII era Washington, DC whose father was a fairly lowly government clerk had an African American nanny. I suspect it was a good paying job for a black woman in DC at the time.

Asher January 2, 2014 at 3:17 am

It’s high in the Philippines too. I think it’s just a way of life in many countries.

John S January 2, 2014 at 7:02 am

As lifespans increase, there will be many city workers whose parents start to suffer from dementia. What a tragedy for so many families.

Thomas January 2, 2014 at 6:04 pm

Sad.

MKT January 3, 2014 at 1:55 am

Has there been research into how much economic growth can be attributed to people’s willingness to relocate (with or without their children)? Putting down roots is all well and good, but most of the upwardly mobile families that I know exhibited significant mobility; if nothing else being willing to send the kid thousands of miles away to go to a high quality college instead of the local Podunk U. Whereas the families where people stayed put tended to experience less income growth.

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