Why blame stay-at-homes?

Updated: 2012-03-14 08:08

(China Daily)

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A political advisor in the annual session of the National People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee said that about 30 percent of young Chinese live with and are supported by their parents. To encourage them to support themselves, he suggested the government should deny social welfare for young people who refuse to work.

But accusing these young people of a moral decline or lack of willpower is unfair, and it is unfeasible to repeal their legal access to social welfare.

It is important to come up with an insightful and workable solution to this problem, so we should first address the reasons this "boomerang generation" has come into being.

Unemployment of young people is a problem faced by countries around the world. But the main causes of China's boomerang generation are the flaws in the distribution of public resources and public services.

The high property prices and the discrimination linked to their hukou, or household registration, increasingly exclude rural school-leavers from cities, where they are much more likely to find a job.

Even if some young people from the countryside do find jobs in the cities, their incomes are still not enough to help them make ends meet and their parents must provide them with financial help. It is not uncommon, for example, for parents to use their savings for the down payment on a house for their kids.

Chinese parents expect education to be a guarantee that their children will find a stable job. But on leaving higher education many young people find their skills do not match the requirements of employers or that they are not competing for jobs on an even playing field. Thus they are forced either to accept lower-paid jobs and to lean on their parents for support or stay at home.

Punishing young people for their perceived laziness and moral decline by depriving them of their legal right to receive social welfare assistance will not motivate them to find a job. And even if they do get a job that does not mean that they will be able to live a decent life independent of their parents.

It's impossible to solve the problem of boomerang children without a host of system changes and reforms. Accusing them of laziness and moral decline does not contribute to a fairer society, which is the real way to address the issue.

(China Daily 03/14/2012 page9)