China's Generation Y

The Post-80s (also the Post-1980, Chinese: 八零后; pinyin: bālínghòu) is a colloquial term which refers to the generation, especially in urban areas, whose members were born between 1980 to 1989 in Mainland China after the introduction of the One-child policy. This generation, the first to grow up entirely within the reformist era, currently ranges in age from 23 to 33, making up a major portion of China's young adult demographic.


In English, this group is also sometimes called China's Generation Y after the use of the term in the book China’s Generation Y by Michael Stanat in 2005 (though he references the dates 1981-1995 [1]) [2]

  • People born in other periods are also named in the same way in Mainland China.
The Post-70s is used to describe Chinese people born in the 1970s.
The Post-90s (九零后) means people born between the years 1990 to 1999 in urban areas. They are usually concerted to brain-disabled characters and non-mainstream culture. This generation has similar traits to post-80s such as being open to premarital sex,[3] but to an even greater degree.
The Pre-60s (六零前) means people born before the year 1960.

It is a generation of approximately 240 million people born between 1980 and 1990, although characteristics of the after-eighty generation have also been seen in those born in the 1990s. Growing up in modern China, this generation has been characterized by its optimism for the future, newfound excitement for consumerism, entrepreneurship, and acceptance of its historic role in transforming modern China into an economic superpower.

These people are also distinguished by their increased access to digital media such as computers, MP3 players and mobile phones. Post-80s in China often experience a palpable generation gap between them and their elders; while their parents lived during the Mao Zedong era, experienced famine and political instability and lack proper education because of the policies set forth under the Cultural Revolution, they live in an environment of tremendous economic growth and social change, high technology, and rigorous education standards. There is also a significant generation gap between them and Post-90s, who are even more thoroughly entrenched in digitality and capitalism.

A clash between tradition and modern influences is noticeable in purchasing habits, career pursuits, and daily interaction between child and elders. Furthermore, young adults have been indirectly affected by forced government shutdowns of thousands of Internet bars each year that prevent the excessive use of the Internet. Young people are also affected by China's large socioeconomic divide between urban and rural residents and societal problems resulting from modernization.


The Post-80s illuminates important questions not only about China's future but also those of the United States and the global economy. Several factors that may influence the generation are individualism, consumerism, modernization, and technology.

Little emperors

Some parents over-indulge their only child. The media referred to the indulged children in one-child families as "little emperors" (xiaohuangdi 小皇帝). Many Chinese families the 4-2-1 format, 4 grandparents, 2 parents, one child, takes place, resulting with a child has no siblings to compete with.Parents and grandparents eat less and spend less money on themselves, only so the youngster could feel physically and mentally strong, focus on one's studies and be successful later on in life.[4]

Almost all Chinese families usually put a set of traditional Confuciansim values to teach their only child. Because the Confuciansim is considering Ren (love and social responsibility) the core reliogional emotion that transferring other moral conceptions into personal motivation. So the child may have received too much love but also been high mental and physical restrictions due to heavy school work, because the economic future of the family depends on the success of the single child. Such a situation would directly lead to a situation that are often considered in academic and popular discourse as over-indulging the children and would been reversing the traditional Chinese Confuciansim value of Ren (love and social responsibility仁) and some filial piety (xiao 孝) There are also evidents that many young Chinese feel a heavy burden[5] and a huge responsibility towards their parents, understanding that their performances in school or other domains can be of crucial consequences towards their family.[4]

Depending on the specific family conditions and children's mental healthy condition, this burden could lead to a diligent lifestyle by youngsters or to a more rebellious attitude to traditional Confuciansim codes or not being able to cope with such pressure nor to develop self-discipline.[6]

While being nurtured by parents and relatives gives children some clear advantages and opportunities, the fact that a child doesn't have sibling who 'compete' with him or her in a younger age could also lead to some psychological difficultes as the child grows. 'Lacking adapting capabilities"(meiyou shiying nengli) is a description which is commonly associated with the new post-80s generation.[6] Since such children don't need to put any efforts in order to gain parents' attention or to win family resources, they develop no competitive abilities and have weak social skills once they are older and need to be self-sufficient.

Having grown up in times of modern consumerism and popular media, rather than the ideals of the cultural revolution, many single-children are inclined to spend large amounts of money on themselves and thus a cornerstone of retail sales.[7] Families which are well-off economically sometimes allow their children to indulge in the new materialistc sphere, while poorer families often still put efforts to keep their children inside the consumers' race, allowing them to purchase new clothes, new cell-phone brands, etc.

Post-80s in Hong Kong

Post-80s in Hong Kong and the after-eighty generation in mainland China are for the most part different.[8] The term Post-80s (八十後) came into use in Hong Kong between 2009 and 2010, particularly during the course of the opposition to the Guangzhou-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, during which a group of young activists came to the forefront of the Hong Kong political scene.[9] They are said to be "post-materialist" in outlook, and they are particularly vocal in issues such as urban development, culture and heritage, and political reform. Their campaigns include the fight for the preservation of Lee Tung Street, the Star Ferry Pier and the Queen's Pier, Choi Yuen Tsuen Village, real political reform (on June 23), and a citizen-oriented Kowloon West Art district. Their discourse mainly develops around themes such as anti-colonialism, sustainable development, and democracy.

See also


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