In China the urban-rural gap is codified through the hukou system of household registration. Some 60% of the population are urban, but only 44% hold an urban hukou. Those registered to live in villages are effectively barred from settling full-time in cities and sidelined at school. So rural and urban youth take distinct educational paths. In 2015 over 80% of all 15- to 17-year-olds were in school, up from half a decade earlier. But in rural areas many attend low-quality vocational schools, note Scott Rozelle and Natalie Hell of Stanford University in a book, “Invisible China”. Mr Dong is not looking for better-paid work because he feels unqualified, despite studying architecture at a vocational school.
Writes The Economist in the Special Report on China's Youth on January 23, 2021.
The china that most foreigners see is modern and metropolitan. The skyscrapers glitter. The bullet trains are fast and comfortable. Anyone who visits only Beijing, Shanghai or Shenzhen would conclude that China was already a rich country.
Yet there is another China: poor, rural and scarcely visible to outsiders, especially when covid-19 has made travel so hard. Toilets can be holes in the dirt, tricky to find in the dark. Women sometimes break river ice to wash clothes by hand. In many villages, most working-age adults have moved to the cities, where they lay bricks, deliver packages and only occasionally return to see their children. “It’s a hard life being away from your family so much,” one migrant in Hebei province told this reviewer.
Writes The Economist in the Books & Arts section on January 23, 2021.