The key to understanding China is to understand its generations. If you’ve had to deal with Chinese of different generations (socially or professionally),  then you might have noticed the gap.  While these age groups have been fraught with social changes over the past century, they also share values deeply rooted in China’s ancient culture of Confucianism. As China moved from a closed to a more open society, the mindset of its people has followed a similar path.

In this post, we will look at a description of China’s generations still alive today as well as the historic events that led to their change over time.

New China Generation  (born before 1949)

  • Eyewitnesses to the momentous changes of 1949.
  • The builders of new communist China.
  • Good education before the Cultural Revolution in 1966.
  • Retired or approaching retirement.

Lost Generation  (1949-1960)

  • Grew up with political instability: „Great Leap Forward“, „Cultural
    Revolution“, „natural disasters“.
  • Little chance for sound education and obliged to worked on the
    countryside.
  • Lack of professional skills.
  • Shutdown of state-owned companies during economic reforms left
    some of them unemployed (下岗: released from duty).
  • Desire for social recognition.
  • Transferred their hopes and ideals to their children.

Suffering Generation (1970-1979)

  • Grew up during Cultural Revolution.
  • First university students after 1978 and social pillars of today‘s
    China.
  • Witnessed Deng‘s opening and reform policy in 1978.
  • Struggle between pursuit of liberty and traditional values.

Transitional Generation (1970-1979)

  • Grew up in the era of reform and opening up.
  • More optimistic, active and dynamic, confident to re-conquer the world.
  • Inherited value systems of the previous generation.
  • First experience with Western products and culture.
  • Less traditional as their parent generation and more traditional
    compared with the up-coming generation.

One-Child Generation (1980-1990) 80后

  • Grew up in an era with growing social stability and high
    appreciation of education and technology.
  • More confident, self-conscious and self-centered.
  • Open to new trends and weary of traditional moral doctrines.
  • Increasing orientation to materialism and hedonism.

E – Generation  (Born after 1990)  90后

  • Enjoy the achievements of Reform and Opening Up.
  • Live in the age of information technology and the internet revolution.
  • Take advantage of various channels of education, home and abroad.
  • Behave and think independently, higher focus on individuality.
  • In pursuit of long-term career path and personal dream.
source: Elite China