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Chinese Female Society: Middle Class and its Development in the 21st Century

UN Women 2015 Global Leaders Meeting © UN Women / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 / Flickr

China is the most populous country and has one of the biggest economies in the world. Its development, which has been visible in recent decades, has given many opportunities for its citizens in different fields. However, old measures like the One Child Policy have resulted in demographic inequality. Women have borne the brunt of these policies in both the private and social fields. Paradoxically, while taking advantage of improvements in the quality of life, women suffer from high demands and pressure, both mental and physical, in the family and in society. While the quality of life is improving in China, it primarily benefits men, which is a result of traditional aspects and beliefs that are at odds with modern needs and contemporary situations.

Thus, this paper focuses on 20th century assumptions which should have led to the improvement of Chinese society in the first decades after the economic opening. She aims to examine contemporary research studies and data which compares Chinese society from the 20th century with the contemporary one. Moreover, she chose to focus on the middle-class, because it is the rapidly growing group in this developing country. (Sicular, 2017)

Special attention is paid to Chinese women in certain issues by examining the size of gaps in elements related to some cases. It has been a popular topic recently that Chinese women still suffer from the position they take in comparison to men, even when women have similar rights as men right now. Traditional approach and philosophic systems such as Confucianism (still a widely employed political influence) still limit women in some areas and force them to bring rather inside (Soh,1993) responsibilities than having a career life. There exist many elements which direct women to adapt to the world with patriarchy introduced by China for years.

When it comes to the structure and general topics discussed in the paper, the author chooses a few of them related to people's daily life. She examined: demography issues, education structure, professional and labor market and participation in Chinese politics, each issue in one chapter respectively.


Demography is the most significant sign of gender inequality in contemporary China. This is the effect of the One Child Policy that disrupted the balance of gender in Chinese demography from 1977 to 2016. The aim of the Policy was to limit China’s birth rate. Each couple were allowed to raise one child only, and couples that gave birth to a second child would face punishment (generally in the form of expensive fines). In this context, only wealthy people who could afford to pay for the exemption had more than one child, which exacerbated class privilege. Starting in 2016, couples were allowed to have two children, but only if the two spouses were an only child.

Assuming that one generation’s duration is between 20 and 25 years, the One child policy adversely affected two generations of Chinese. It is associated with the female stigma against women that gave birth to a second child, or who gave birth to a girl. This fear led to several cases of selective abortion, which was legal only for the richest families in China. As a result, many women chose dangerous methods like drowning an unb