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Pessimistic youth’s ‘four nos’ attitude a worry for Chinese government

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(, Jul14’23) – Amid growing worries about the country’s economy and graduate joblessness, a substantial numbers of youths have adopted an attitude that is termed as the “four nos”: no interest in dating, getting married, buying a home or having a child, reported Jul 13. The compounding of China’s worries about its shrinking population with economic underperformance has emerged as a new worry for the Chinese government as its once thriving export markets look to “derisk” from a politically unreliable supplier.

And the Chinese government is underreporting the scale of the problem. When the National Bureau of Statistics spokesperson Fu Linghui said on Jun 15 that only about six million people between 16 and 24 in China were still searching for jobs, he did not count the 11.6 million new graduates about to enter the job markets, the report noted.

Also, his figure excluded the many in their 30s who’ve been suffering from unstable income. Some of these people now refer to themselves as the youth of “four nos,” a trending term on the internet in China, the report said.

Some young Chinese adopted a “lying flat” attitude a few years ago as they were suffocated by the societal pressures upon them to overwork and over-achieve in order to buy homes and have families. Now many are suffering from unemployment or unstable income and want to be free from financial burdens, the report said.

A document, reportedly issued by the Communist Youth League of Guangzhou City, was reported to say that a recent survey interviewing 15,501 college students and young workers found that 1,215, or 8%, showed characteristics of having the “four nos” attitude. It was stated to have called on all parties in the society to try to change these youngsters’ attitude into “four wants.”

This came after the National Bureau of Statistics said on Jun 15 that the unemployment rate of people aged between 16 and 24 in China’s urban areas had reached 20.8% while that of those aged between 25 and 59 was 4.1% in May.

Government actions are seen as responsible for a big part of the problem. The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Institute of Finance and Banking said in a report on Tuesday (Jul 11) that many highly-educated young people could not find proper jobs as the property, internet and tutorial sectors have been hurt by the government’s regulatory rules in recent years, the report noted.

“A series of tightening measures launched in 2021 has helped regulate the property, internet and tutorial sectors but at the same time hurt them seriously,” Zhang Chong, a researcher at the institute, has said in a media briefing in Beijing on Tuesday (Jul 11). “Although the number of unemployed people in these sectors has fallen this year from 2022, it still stays at a high level.”

Besides, “due to an industry upgrade, China’s labor market has undergone significant changes with a stronger focus on service industries and a decline in manufacturing jobs,” Zhang has said. “This trend has hit many young people.”

He has also said many highly-educated young people find themselves mismatched with jobs in the market, where the emphasis is on technician skills, not academic results. Besides, he has said, slowing economic growth, the delayed negative impact of the pandemic on the service sector and the use of robots and artificial intelligence also pushed up China’s jobless rate.

To overcome the declining population growth and pessimistic sentiment among the youth, some netizens say the government and party are not giving what young people want. The demand is for dwellings, stable jobs and subsidies to raise families in urban areas but the authorities instead ask them to help upgrade the rural areas, the report said.

The report cited a Chinese writer as saying in an article published on Wednesday (Jul 12) that the Communist Youth League in Guangzhou wanted young people to have a “four wants” spirit but he thought chanting slogans was not helpful. He has said it was important for the government to understand why young people had a pessimistic sentiment.

He was referring to the fact that on Feb 20, the Communist Youth League in Guangdong Province had launched a three-year plan that aimed to arrange 300,000 young people to work in rural areas between 2023 and 2025. Its expectation was that 10,000 of them would continue to work in the rural places while 10,000 others would start businesses there.


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