'Ant tribe' should try luck in smaller cities: poll

By Wang Hongyi (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-08-19 08:20
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SHANGHAI - A majority of more than 3,000 people who participated in an online poll feel China's "ant tribe" should try their luck in second- or third-tier cities instead of struggling for opportunities in highly competitive metropolises.

The term "ant tribe", coined by Lian Si, a scholar who wrote a book about the post-80s generation in China, refers to millions of fresh graduates who crowd together in slums across the country's big cities in search of opportunities.

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Of those who participated in the survey, which was conducted by the social research center of China Youth Daily earlier this month, 61 percent said the ant tribe should bid farewell to big cities like Beijing and Shanghai.

About 48 percent of the respondents were born in the 1980s, and 29 percent in the 1970s. A third of respondents claimed to be a part of the ant tribe.

According to the survey, respondents showed mixed feelings in a multiple-choice question on their attitude toward the ant tribe.

About 37 percent said the tribe has ideals and pursuits, and merit praise and encouragement, 50 percent felt their dreams are difficult to achieve, 29 percent said they need to evaluate themselves better, and 22 percent said some in the tribe will achieve their dreams if they stick to it.

About 50 percent felt people part of the ant tribe may have earned money but have lost their youth.

Fresh college graduates, mostly from rural areas or small cities, flock to big cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen in search of the Chinese version of the American dream.

But high living costs and skyrocketing rents have them struggling on the margins of society.

A majority of respondents said they should look for opportunities in smaller cities, where the living expenses are much lower and the space for personal development much larger.

About 43 percent said they shouldn't be so focused on their dream that they forget to live, while 23.8 percent felt their goal should be to achieve a "good life".

"Many companies have been expanding their businesses in second- or third-tier cities. And some have transferred their research and development centers and manufacturing bases there, with attractive salaries on offer. There are good opportunities for these young college graduates," said Yang Bing, a senior research manager at the China International Intellectech Corporation, one of the country's leading human resources service providers.

"Young graduates should evaluate themselves objectively - they should gain more insight into their own strengths and weaknesses, a way to help them make right decisions," he said.