Public concerns about class immobility represent awareness of social closure and economic inequality on the part of members of the public. We provide the first representative portrait and empirical analysis of the growing immobility concerns among the Chinese. Using online query volume data from Baidu, the most widely used search engine in China, we extract the overall index of searching immobility-related words to measure the provincial level of concerns about immobility. We found that concerns about immobility rose dramatically from around 2008 and slightly decreased from 2012 and that all provinces show similar tendencies. We fit dynamic panel models using the Generalized Method of Moments estimator and found that the level of public concerns about class immobility in a province is profoundly affected by a series of the province’s political and socioeconomic conditions.
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Isabel Sawhill. “Inequality and social mobility: Be afraid,” Social Mobility Memos, May 27, 2015. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/social-mobility-memos/2015/05/27/inequality-and-social-mobility-be-afraid/.
We performed a series of robustness checks. First, if a certain immobility-related word or several words had been far more searched for on Baidu, then ICC measured by the sum frequency of word searches may simply reflect the search for the very specific or for certain groups of words. So, for each province in each year, we carry out a Principal Components Analysis (PCA) to generate the overall index of search frequency rather than simply computing a sum of 75 time series of search. Second, we also sum up the Z-Score of 75-word frequencies to generate an alternative index. Although not reported here to save space, the results obtained from models using the two new indexes are in general consistent with what we have revealed in Table 2. The results are available upon request.
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The List of Immobility-Related Words
贫富分化 polarization between the rich and the poor
官二代 the official-lings
工人阶级 the working class
中产阶级 the middle class
资产阶级 the bourgeoisie
穷二代 poor second generation
贵族 the nobility
上流社会 the upper class
金领 gold-collar worker
蓝领 blue-collar worker
白领 white-collar worker
基尼系数 Gini coefficient
富二代 rich second generation
无产阶级 the proletariat
阶级斗争 class struggle
社会地位 social status
收入差距 income gap
职业地位 occupational status
同一起跑线 the same starting line
农民工 rural migrant workers
白富美 fair-skinned and good-looking females from wealthy families
高富帅 tall, rich and handsome man
矮穷矬 short, poor and ugly
世袭罔替 the inheritance of privileged title
世袭制 hereditary system
拼爹 competition of family background
不患寡而患不均 concerns himself not with scarcity but rather with uneven distribution
知识改变命运 knowledge changes one’s destiny
中产阶层 middle class
中等收入 middle income
星二代 the second generation of stars
豪门 wealthy and influential family
门当户对 two parties in marriage should be equal in social status
改变命运 change one’s destiny
凤凰男 a man born and growing up in the countryside but successfully gets a job in cities
孔雀女 a girl from a big city and a rich family
名门望族 great noble family/clan
出身论 theory of family origins
蓝血 blue blood (refers to a person of noble breeding)
鲤鱼跳龙门 cyprinoid jump over dragon door (which means make good winning and climb up to a higher rung at the social ladder)
世家 a family holding high official positions for generations
高干子弟 children of high ranking officials
大院子弟 those who were growing up in the community of people working for the Party, the Government and the Army
家庭出身 family origin
蚁族 ant tribe (a metaphor for the groups of low-income university graduates who settle in the compact and underdeveloped suburbs of major cities)
利益集团 interest group
逆袭 loser becoming a winner
富不过三代 clogs to clogs in three generations
仇富 hatred of the rich
萝卜招聘 tailor-made recruitment (which refers to that only the child of a certain official meets the requirement set by the employer, especially during the process of recruiting civil servants)
高考报名 taking the national college entrance examination
权贵资本主义 crony capitalism
红二代 offspring of the Party cadres
分配不公 unfair distribution of wealth
城乡差距 rural–urban gap/disparity
恩格尔系数 Engel coefficient
美国梦 the American dream
白手起家 build up from nothing
虎父无犬子 like father like son
贫寒子弟children of poor origins
上升空间 climbing space
寒门再难出贵子 It’s too difficult for those who rose from underprivileged families to become elite
农二代 those who were born in the rural area
一代穷世代穷 the persistence of poverty across generations
高考弃考 giving up the national college entrance examination
科举 imperial examination
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Li, S., Chen, Y. & He, G. Mapping Public Concerns About Class Immobility in China. Soc Indic Res 144, 745–765 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-019-02075-2
- Class immobility
- Class mobility
- Social class
- Big data