Economic Discrimination in China

Posted by on Sep 8, 2023 in Economics, Stuff You Should Know

Imagine turning 35 years old and suddenly facing a difficult time finding a job, or even losing your job, just because of your age. That is what some people in China are experiencing. It is being called the “Curse of 35.”  

The “Curse of 35” Explained 

The “Curse of 35” is a term used in China to describe a problem in which people who are around 35 years old are finding it harder to get hired or are even losing jobs they already have. Many employers in China prefer to hire younger workers. They believe younger employees are more energetic, adaptable, and can work longer hours. 

Many see this trend as a clear case of age discrimination. Age discrimination is unfair treatment based only on a person’s age. In the case of the “Curse of 35” it means that people in their mid-30s might not get the same job opportunities as younger individuals. This happens even if the older candidates are more qualified. 

A young Asian entrepreneur using a smartphone working in office background.
Some Chinese people are worried about the Curse of 35. Read this article to find out more.

Why Is this Happening?  

Several factors contribute to this economic issue. One significant factor is the fierce competition for jobs in China. Numerous young, skilled workers are entering the job market, making it tough for those who are a bit older to secure or maintain employment. 

Additionally, some employers may have stereotypes about older workers. They might think that older employees will not be as productive or will not adapt to new technologies as quickly as younger employees. This bias can lead employers to overlook older, qualified candidates. Younger workers can also be paid lower wages. Employers looking to save money may see cost savings as an advantage. 

The “Curse of 35” is having a profound impact on people’s lives. Those who experience age discrimination may struggle financially, feel stressed or anxious, and have a lower quality of life. It can also affect their self-esteem and mental health. 

A Similar Story 

Women in China experience a different economic roadblock–gender discrimination. Women sometimes are overlooked for job promotions because their employers worry they might have children and take maternity leave and do not want to have to offer that benefit. Often employers decide not to hire women at all. Women that do take maternity leave often lose their jobs upon returning to the workplace.  

What Can Be Done? 

There are efforts by Chinese people and organizations to combat the “Curse of 35” and to address gender discrimination in the hiring process. Support for fair hiring practices that do not discriminate based on age is essential. In some cases, laws and policies are being adopted to protect workers from age-related discrimination. To combat age and gender discrimination, experts believe legal reform is necessary. China’s labor law prohibits discrimination based on ethnicity, gender, and religious belief but does not address age discrimination adequately. Even in areas where some protection is offered, like maternity leave, enforcement of the law remains weak, and gender discrimination persists. 

Attempts to legislate against age discrimination in the past have not yet been successful. However, there has been some progress in relaxing age restrictions for government jobs in certain provinces and regions. This may help combat age discrimination to some extent. 

Some individuals are avoiding jobs in traditional workplaces, instead choosing alternative career paths.  For instance, some are pursuing jobs as online content creators. This enables them to avoid workplaces where age discrimination is common.  

What Do You Think? How do you feel about the impact age and gender discrimination can have on individuals’ lives, including their financial situation, mental health, and self-esteem? What do you believe should be done to address this problem?