Wang is a 25 year old construction worker from a small village in the Hubei Province of China. Along with his family and everyone else in his village, Wang was forced to leave the only home he had ever known, because of the construction of the world’s largest hydroelectric power station in the Yangtze River, known as the Three Georges Dam.
Wang is just one of millions of Chinese peasants that migrated from their homes to urban China – in Wang’s case, Beijing. The comfort was a dream, though – more opportunity to future generations, higher salaries and therefore, an improved quality of life. Statistically, this is the case; the average farmer in China has a monthly income of 175 Yuan ($25 US), while an urban Chinese resident receives 580 Yuan ($85 US) , a greater than threefold difference. The World Bank reports that the average rural-urban income ratio in most of the countries is 1 to 1.5.
When one further considers these numbers, one is forced also to think of health related issues, such as the lack of health and unemployment benefits for rural residents. With a population of 1.3 billion and 900 million farmers in impoverish conditions it is no mystery that China is experiencing one of the biggest, fastest, and continuous exodus in human history.
It is true that migrants will have a better income, but do they really have anything to be optimistic about? Have the increased wages actually changed their quality of living? It is difficult to say yes with any degree of certainty when one considers what is newly injected into their lives along with the increased capital; long working hours and increased safety hazards. Hence, a social crisis is rumbling in China, fueled by imbalanced economic growth. It is unlikely that it will achieve the wealth and global success it certainly could, as long as they are not able to find a solution to increase their farmers’ income and spread economic wealth to the majority of their population. Read the rest of this entry »