China’s Young College Grads Toil in ‘Ant Tribes’

AP reports on the young tech workers who live in slums outside major cities in what have become known as “ant tribes”:

The Chinese born after 1980 are among the most privileged generation in China’s long . Living after the communist government gave up the radical politics that tossed their parents and grandparents between chaos and penury, they have known only ever-rising levels of prosperity.

In their lifetimes, gleaming new office towers have remade China’s cities. Hundreds of millions have been lifted from . abroad, private cars and apartments and a education – all once the preserve of the elite – are increasingly common.

Vibrant megacities such as Beijing and Shanghai are the epitome of this good life. So the ant generation comes, bringing its aspirations.

But their very abundance keeps entry-level salaries low, while and other costs rise. Real estate prices have doubled in just three years in major cities, outpacing a 40 percent increase in urban wages from 2005 to .

“This is the biggest struggle for China’s young generation today,” says Liu Neng, a sociology professor at Beijing University. “People in their 40s and 50s, now leaders in society, have already experienced hardships, but it’s the younger generation’s turn to face challenges before they become part of the country’s elite.”

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