Friday, 9 February 2007

White Collar jobs in China: migrant workers with college degrees?

With the large number of Chinese students coming to the US, US and now across Europe to study as economists we would expect the returns to education to be high. Given the cost of living and studying in the UK a good job back in China was the expectation.

However, with the increase in the supply of well educated graduates from the West the returns to this education is falling.

This article from China Daily is an interesting although badly written read.

White collars feel blue
At the forefront of those benefiting from China's rapid economic growth, the white collars are supposed to be happy. In fact, many are downright blue.

Their salaries are going up, but they aren't getting promoted. They are feeling less happy, and their personal lives are deteriorating.

According to a recent study jointly conducted by CCTV and, more than 60% of Chinese white collars are unhappy with their lives and careers, and surprisingly, those who feel more unhappy are from economically advanced areas like Shanghai and Beijing. It seems earning more money does not necessarily make people happy, and more often than not, the money comes at the price of sacrificing one's personal life.

Literary Study

"The so-called 'white collars' are nothing more than migrant workers with college degrees," said Winnie Wang, a young employee working with a major PR company in Shanghai. The term "white collar" usually refers to people who spend most of their time facing computers in offices in China. Being a white collar usually means making a living with brainpower, not physical strength. They are not factory workers or farmers, yet they are not bosses, either.

However, the term 'white collar,' once something to be proud of, is losing its power to impress.

"A lot of my classmates working in the four major accounting firms in the CBD area in Beijing do not like to be called 'white collars,'" said Jessie Tao, who graduated from the China University of Politics and Law more than two years ago, "because being called a 'white collar' actually gives you a label, which sometimes denotes monotony and oppression."


Even if the job is run-of-the-mill, white collars typically feel they are under a lot of pressure. "I am fed up with the routine," said Rachel Wang, who just quit her third job at an import and export company in Shanghai. "The boss was always picking on me. I didn't see a future in that job, and I was not happy, so I quit."

Stress is a major factor that forces a lot of young white collars to quit their jobs. The heavy workload usually leaves the white collars very little time to enjoy themselves, and it's becoming trendy for a lot of people to exit the job, and then travel for a few months before finding a new one.

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