Anyone who has listened to me in the past decade knows that I think China’s going to take the greatest economic fall of any major country.
They’re the only emerging country that has continually declining demographics. The top-down Chinese mafia-like government has overbuilt everything (decades ahead) in the name of job growth in cities to leverage steroid-like GDP growth.
But I’ve also considered another proven principle: it’s younger people that move and migrate, but they also revolt and drive unrest, much more than older people.
And China is an aging society with rapidly falling birth rates.
There’s a great concentration of younger migrant workers in cities that move from rural areas yet are not official citizens with normal access to education and social programs. They’re looked upon and treated like second-class citizens, similar to illegal immigrants in the U.S. – needed for their low-wage labor yet shunned otherwise. Urban citizens often don’t want such lowly migrant children going to school with their own kids, and the government doesn’t allow them.
These people have the lowest wages, zero benefits (and often have to leave their kids with their grandparents in the rural areas for schooling), are least able to afford the sky-high and rising real estate prices, all while having to choke on the smog and fight traffic like everyone else.
In China, most men buy a condo and a car before they get married, otherwise they have no chance of even getting a date! Chinese women are very discriminating about that. The two sectors that have the hardest time getting married are poorer men and richer women – as these men don’t like women who’re smarter, more affluent or more powerful than them.
Migrant male workers outnumber women due to the one-child policy that favors boys!
And the majority of them are young and ripe for revolting.
These migrant workers are significant in numbers at 280 million, making up just over 20% of the population, and likely closer to 30% of the adult population.
However, since 2014 the number of migrant workers has been declining, with more going back to rural areas where they’re better treated.
And since 2015, migrant worker wages have been rising slower than urban citizens after rising faster previously, adding insult to injury.
It’s important to note that there are two groups of such migrant workers.
The older workers came from the Mao Era of the Cultural Revolution. They were born 1960 through 1980, and came in the 1980s and 1990s when the great migration was first pushed by the government. They were just happy to make more money, despite the sacrifices, and knew they could always go back to the farm if need be – and they’re old farts now.
The younger generation – those born after 1980 – grew up during the Deng reforms. They’ve never worked the land, and don’t want to go back to the rural areas, making them far more likely to stay in the cities.
It’s the older migrants that’re starting to move back to rural areas and causing the migrant population to decline for the first time since 2014.
When this reverse migration back to rural areas started, it was a “shock” to China’s policy of over-building to over-stimulate urbanization beyond natural growth rates.
China’s four-decade strategy has finally failed… Only no one has announced it yet!
So, where does that leave the cities of China: with about 150 million-plus younger migrant workers that’re pissed off, with two-thirds of men 18 to 25 unmarried (or three-fourths by some estimates) and unlikely to be, as they can’t afford housing.
When this so-called “miracle” of Chinese growth and urbanization finally falls apart between 2019 and 2020, these men will revolt.
The next Tiananmen Square protests will come, and they will be much greater and more powerful. With workers, not students, rioting in much higher numbers from much greater desperation!
I want to see what the economists that constantly praise the new Chinese model of state-driven capitalism say then…
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