Abstracts & Papers in Stream 5

The Ant Tribe refers to the swelling ranks of underemployed or underpaid Chinese university graduates frustrated by their failure to fulfill their ambitions. The number of these disadvantaged university graduates, the main body of which is comprised of graduates without urban household status and or with a degree from lower tiers institutes, is on a steady rise in recent years. The fact that the Ant Tribe could not climb out of their miseries via education is a hint of the fact that the education system is not necessarily promoting social mobility in contemporary China featured by startling social inequality. By examining the important steps within the twelve years from primary school to university a typical graduate dubbed as one of the Ant Tribe cannot escape from, this paper shows how the Chinese education system is transferring parents' social and economic status to the next generation. Education against such a context is no longer giving the disadvantaged a chance to change their lives. Without reforming the education system with effective measures, the bigger the number of high achievers, the more polarized the society.

 

 

Full paper: Wingkit_Chan_2010_The Path to the Ant Tribe.pdf

Japan has experienced the increasing levels of income inequality and poverty recently, in particular since the 1990s. This paper examines how public policies, in addition to the country's economic and social conditions, have contributed to this phenomenon in comparison to the South Korean case. Employers in Japan and South Korea have had incentives to increase labour market flexibility and reduce labour costs to better deal with economic competition under globalisation. In addition, these countries share a number of similar socio-economic structures (such as similar corporate employment practices and gender discrimination in the labour market). Japan's income inequality measured by the Gini Index has increased rapidly since the 1990s according to the CIA's World Factbook (from 24.9 in 1993 to 38.1 in 2002) and inequality and poverty are currently among the most prominent socio-economic issues in Japan. However, after the increase in income inequality following the Asian Financial Crisis, South Korea's income inequality measured by the Gini Index decreased in the 2000s according to the same statistics (from 35.8 in 2000 to 31.3 in 2007). This paper aims to explain the recent increase in income inequality and poverty in Japan in comparison to South Korea by analysing these countries' labour market deregulation policies to promote the use of non-regular work (such as temporary agency work and fixed-term contracts) and social safety measures (such as unemployment insurance and minimum wages) among other things. This paper aims to demonstrate that, while these two coordinated market economies (according to the varieties of capitalism literature) have increased the use of neo-liberal business practices and economic measures under globalisation, public policies are likely to have contributed to the increasing levels of Japan's income inequality and poverty in a different manner from the South Korean case unlike the varieties of capitalism would suggest otherwise.