June 5, 2008 / 12:37 AM / 10 years ago

FACTBOX: The ABC's of China's post-1980s generation

(Reuters) - The generation that has grown up since China’s post-1980s transition to a market economy is expected to earn more, travel more and live longer than their predecessors.

Here are some facts and figures about this generation:


— 21.4 percent of China’s 1.3 plus billion people were aged from 15 to 29, according to the 2006 national population survey.

— Life expectancy: About 72 years. Chinese academics have predicted it will jump 13 years to 85 by 2050.

* ‘BARE BRANCH’ BACHELORS: For every 100 baby girls born in China, there are about 119 baby boys. By 2020, China could be short 30 million women, leaving millions of ‘bare branches’(trees that don’t bear fruit), young men, without partners.

* BLOGGERS: China’s first blog appeared in 2002. Students and young office workers are behind a trend that has seen one in four internet users, an estimated 47 million Chinese, try blogging.

* CELEBRITIES: Snooker prodigy Ding Junhui, (born 1987) piano prodigy Lang Lang (born 1982), world champion hurdler Liu Xiang (born 1983), and basketball star Yao Ming (born 1980) are some of China’s post-80s international stars.

* COLLEGE KIDS: Unlike the Cultural Revolution’s ‘Lost Generation’ who often missed schooling due to the political upheavals, around a quarter of today’s 20-somethings have attended college. Since opening up in 1978, more than 600,000 have studied overseas, of whom 160,000 have returned to China.

* COMMUNIST PRAGMATISTS: Though characterized as apolitical, just under a quarter of youngsters under 28 were members of the 75.4 million-strong Communist Youth League of China at the end of 2007, up 2.9 percent from 2006, state news agency Xinhua said in May 2008. Of 70 million fully-fledged party members in 2005, 23 percent were under 35.

* CONSERVATION MINDED: Buying a car rates highly in polls of citizens’ wish-lists, but since the 1980s resource-hungry China prioritized raising a ‘conservation-minded’, energy-efficient generation. Among a raft of recent green moves, Yao Ming has spoken against eating the fins of endangered sharks, ultra-thin plastic bags have been banned, and disposable chopsticks taxed.

* DEPRESSED?: Suicide is the number one killer for people aged between 20 and 35, as compared to the fifth leading cause of death for the general population, a 2005 Ministry of Health report said. Unlike elsewhere, suicides are more common among young women, especially in rural areas, than young men. Pressure, competition, and emotional uncertainty were all named as factors.

Sources: Reuters, Xinhua, CIA World Factbook

Writing by Gillian Murdoch Editorial Reference Unit; editing by Megan Goldin

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