China: College Degree Worth $44 a Month

Despite fears that Chinese universities will soon surpass prestigious American ones, at least right now Chinese college graduates aren’t doing very well. As Josh Chin writes at the Wall Street Journal:

Despite entering a robust economy that seemed to weather the financial crisis as if were it a middling squall, China’s college graduates on average make only 300 yuan, or roughly $44, more per month than the average Chinese migrant worker, according to statistics cited over the weekend by a top Chinese labor researcher.

Whoa, I guess Communism does work. Each according to his ability; each according to his need.

Actually, the reason for low salaries for college graduates has a lot to do with recent efforts to increase the number of people in the People’s Republic of China with academic degrees. The population of students increased by 30 percent in the last decade. The economy means that a lot of them are now unemployed, which brings down the average. In addition, a simultaneous shortage in the number of manufacturing and construction works means that people in those jobs can demand higher wages.

It’s a little unpleasant, however, to be earning so little after obtaining a college degree. As the article points out, though, “one possible advantage Chinese degree-holders have over their American counterparts: In China, there’s no shame in living in your parents’ basement after graduation.”

That’s not the only thing. Another big advantage is that China provides free university education, so graduates don’t have student loans to pay off.

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer