mandag 24. juni 2024

Big City Dreams, Small-Town Realities for China’s Rural Youth

“Small cities” refer to prefecture-level and county-level cities at or below the fourth or fifth tier in Chinese city classification. China’s urbanization has unfolded as a gradual process characterized by the continual flow of rural residents between cities and the countryside. While big cities are the drivers of urbanization and rural areas are the anchors of stability, small cities are the buffer zones — they give rural migrants an initial urban foothold while providing a tactical fallback option for those seeking to escape megacities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.

Through ongoing observations of “small-town youth,” my research team has identified generational differences in motivations for young people returning to their hometowns. The post-’80s generation tends to come back because of family matters such as sending their children to school or taking care of their elderly parents — natural products of life progression.