China’s young adults quit job market to become ‘full-time children’ amid high unemployment

Chinese young adults facing massive unemployment rates are turning looking after their aging parents into a “full-time” position in the latest national trend.

“Full-time children” are described as young adults who move back in with their parents and are paid a monthly salary or given some form of compensation to run errands or do chores around the house.

Over the summer, several social media groups on the Chinese social network Douban and the platform Xiaohongshu emerged with users declaring themselves to be “full-time children.” Some groups with thousands of members explained the process that has grown as young adults graduating from university struggle to find jobs.

According to Business Insider, approximately 21.3% of Chinese citizens aged 16-24 were unemployed in June, a record high. Social media users cited a lack of jobs as well as burnout inspiring them to move back home rather than put out more job applications.

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This followed the 2022 growth of “let it rot” culture, consisting of young Chinese Gen Z-ers and Millennials expressing a nihilistic attitude online toward corporate culture. Social media users also attacked the widespread “996” work attitude, which was described as working from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. six days a week with no extra pay.

The lack of employment options for young people compounds growing concerns over China’s incoming demographic crisis. In 2022, China’s population fell by about 850,000 people down to 1.411 billion. According to the country’s National Bureau of Statistics, this was the first population decline since Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward led to widespread famine and death from 1958 to 1962.

A United Nations forecast also showed China’s population decreasing 100 million by 2050 and 600 million by 2100 due to an aging population, a shrinking workforce and declining fertility rates. China’s fertility has also fallen to 1.8 children per woman, below the necessary “replacement” rate of 2.1 children per woman, according to the Pew Research Center.

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“Population decline will severely undercut the ability of the economy to grow,” China expert Gordon Chang told FOX News in February. “China’s demographic dividend was largely responsible for the growth of the Chinese economy in the ’80s and ’90s. That was an extraordinary bulge in the workforce. Now we are seeing the opposite of that.”

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China has since responded by relaxing its one-child policy to a two-child policy in 2016 before changing it again in 2021 to a three-child policy. Chinese media have also sent messages to residents encouraging “sweet love, marriage and childbirth.”

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