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Chinese young adults quitting work to become ‘full-time children’

China flag. (Unsplash)
September 02, 2023

A growing number of Chinese young adults are quitting work and becoming “full-time children” in the face of economic turmoil in China.

According to Australian outlet ABC, a recent report from the National School of Development of Peking University, a Chinese think tank, indicated that roughly 16 million Chinese young adults could be considered “full-time children.” Additionally, China’s National Bureau of Statistics reported that youth unemployment reached 21.3% in June.

31-year-old Zhang Jiayi serves as an example of one of China’s “full-time children.” After launching a clothing company in 2020, Jiayi decided to close her company and become a “full-time daughter” earlier this year as her business was “getting harder every year.”

“The amount of time and effort I was putting in was disproportionate to [the profitability], and it felt like there was no hope in sight,” she said.

READ MORE: China’s economic behemoth stumbles again

Instead of using her skills in a traditional work environment, Zhang takes care of her parents’ various needs in exchange for a “salary” of 8,000 yuan each month, which is the equivalent of $1,600.

“Things are quite routine,” Zhang said. “I go for morning exercise with my parents after getting up. I do Tai Chi with my mum as she has been learning it. My parents love traveling, so I make plans for them. When they have troubles with digital devices, I would also help them.”

According to ABC, contrary to young adults who are considered not in employment, education, training, “full-time children” consider themselves employed by their parents rather than unemployed. The new form of “employment” has become popular on Chinese social media, with one Chinese forum group labeled “Full-Time Children’s Work Exchange Centre” currently boasting over 4,000 members.

While some “full-time children” have expressed excitement with the idea of not having to go to work each day, other young adults have demonstrated anxiety and frustration toward the fact that they are not able to find a traditional job in the current Chinese economy.

“I wish things would work themselves out, but I really don’t see a way out or hope,” one Chinese user posted online. Another user commented, “It’s normal to not be able to find a job now that the economy is not doing well. It’s not our own issue, but the issue of the entire society.”