Reporting on a study commissioned by public relations company MSL Group, the South China Morning Post interpreted it to say that young Chinese “millennials” — those born approximately between the years 1984 and 1996 — are a far cry from the “lazy, demanding and too idealistic” western millennials who often receive flack from occasional flavor-of-the-week think pieces such as this one. After reading the survey ourselves, however, we here at the Shanghaiist remain the right to be a little skeptical about SCMP’s conclusion.
In an article entitled “Young Chinese more driven than their Western peers”, SCMP suggests that, according to the MSL Group’s survey, Chinese millennials “are in fact highly ambitious and place greater value on international work experience than their peers in Britain and the United States.” Yet after taking a look at the survey ourselves, we’re not sure if things are as simple as the headline suggests.
As to how the numbers break down: The survey (which can be accessed here) canvassed almost 1,300 millenials from Brazil, mainland China, France, Britain, India and the U.S. The first finding that SCMP mentions in their article is that around 19% of mainland Chinese millenials expect to be managers within two years of graduating from university — an honorable figure, by all means.
What the SCMP article fails to mention, however, is that the survey also concludes that 24%, 23% and 21% of millennials in Brazil, the USA, and the UK (respectively) believe that they “should be in a management position within one year of graduating.” India clocks in as the most ambitious, with 37% thinking they should be in a management position one year after graduating. “Overall”, the study says, “more than 40% of this generation expect to be in a management position within two years.” Not sure if this warrants SCMP’s headline describing Chinese “more driven than their Western peers” — but hey, we’re not getting defensive over here or anything…
SCMP was right about Chinese millennials valuing international work experience more than their Western peers: According to the survey, 47% of mainland Chinese millenials value work experience overseas (with North America as their top location), while only 18% and 29% of their US and UK counterparts (respectively) feel the same.
Since the nature of surveys like these is to make very broad generalizations based on typically very small sample sizes, they tend to stir up quite a bit of controversy. With that said, if you are going to base your headline on an equally broad argument that a) isn’t quite present in the original document and b) also not really back it up with any statistical evidence in the article (aside from the valuing of international work experience, which is probably not the sole determinant of drive/ambition), you’re likely to receive at least a little bit of backlash.
By Alex Stevens
[Image via Xinnhua]