Global Citizen

Do China's Wealthy Have The Upper Hand?

A recent report by The Economist reveals that many Chinese citizens largely believe the super wealthy have a distinct advantage over everyone else. This, in turn, could be one of the reasons why China’s emerging middle class – the country’s 530k Global Citizens – are sending their kids outside of the country – and often to the U.S. – in search of better educational opportunities.

With the majority of China’s population believing that life is unfairly weighted in favor of the wealthy, according to a recently released special report by The Economist, it may be a contributing factor why so many Chinese Global Citizens flock to the United States to pursue secondary education.

Despite the income gap narrowing slightly over the past several years due to increased pay for blue-collar and rural jobs, compared to white-collar jobs, Chinese citizens generally still believe that the disparity is worsening. The report also reveals that many Chinese citizens believe having personal networks with powerful connections trumps hard work.

Given the wealth gap between rural and urban areas in China, a large contingent of Chinese Global Citizens — individuals who generally have the wealth or discretionary income to support their personal pursuits, including studying and seeking health care abroad — have opted to pursue their educational dreams outside of their home country, according to the Global Citizen Index.

As far as receiving a college education in China is concerned, more than 7 million students received their university degrees, compared to less than a million in 2000, according to the report. While that may make society more equal, the middle class worries that new graduates are finding it difficult to find quality jobs, the report adds.

Meanwhile, nearly one-third of all international students studying in the U.S. are Chinese, which represents the largest source country. There is also 539,000 Chinese Global Citizens, which is nearly 100,000 more Global Citizens than India has, according to the Index.

The collaborative study with Flywire focuses on the economic effect of Global Citizens with regard to cross-border education, because it is the biggest area of opportunity being pursued by Global Citizens. For Chinese Global Citizens, they need to earn $56,233 annually to maintain their lifestyle and pay for a U.S. education, according to the Index, as the living cost is $24,000 and the educational cost is $32,233.

Of the 620 surveys completed by Global Citizens as part of the study, 68 percent of the surveyed Chinese students said that getting a better education was either the most or a very important factor in deciding to study abroad.

One Chinese Global Citizen student profiled in the Index, 22-year-old Ziliang, a Tufts University senior, said both of his parents supported his decision to attend the university in Massachusetts.

Ziliang’s parents are originally from rural Beijing and received college educations, “which were not very common for their peers,” he said. For his parents, both of whom are doctors, earning college degrees was their way of getting out of poverty and ticket to getting off the farms.

The Economist reports that less than 10 percent of rural children attend senior high school, compared with 70 percent of urban kids. The report also notes how rural students tend to leave school when they are 15 years old, while a third of their urban counterparts go on to earn their degrees.

To download the 2016 Q2 Global Citizen Index™, a Flywire collaboration, please fill out the form below:

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