Family Structure and Labour Market Comparison: UK and China

1328 words (5 pages) Essay in Cultural Studies

14/08/18 Cultural Studies Reference this

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China and the UK are the important developing and developed country respectively. However, China has 9.6 million square kilometres of land area and the world’s biggest population, which is very different from the UK. Therefore, in terms of demography, there are many differences between the two countries. In this essay, the similarities and differences of family structure and labour market will be compared and evaluated between China and the UK. First of all, this essay will focus on the similarities between the family structure and the labour market, then analyze their differences, before suggest reasons and consequences for them.

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When it comes to family structure, there are two similarities between China and the UK. The first similarity is that both China and Britain’s birth rates are below the world average. According to Central Intelligence Agency (2014) China’s birth rate is 12.17‰ and the UK’s is 12.22‰ while the world average is 18.7‰. Another similarity is that, in terms of divorce, infidelity is the second main reason for divorce both in China and the UK. The Daily Post (2005) reveals that “ the next biggest factor was infidelity, an issue for 30% of the 546 divorcees in the YouGov poll”, while Chen weihua (2006) also reports about divorce in China, which points out that 27% divorce because of infidelity and it just follows the reason of incompatibility.

However, there are also two differences between China and the UK. First of all, the number of dependent children in family is different, and the UK’s tends to be bigger than China’s. According to the Office for National Statistics (2013, p.3), the UK’s average number of dependent children per family is 1.7 in 2012. In contrast to this, according to the police of family planning in China, a couple can have 1.5 children on average in the mainland. As the fact that not everyone prefers to have a child or is able to have one, the actual number is lower than that. It is easy to be discovered that China’s families have fewer children than the UK’s. The second difference is that Chinese family size is bigger than the UK’s. The ONS (2013) released that in 2013 the UK’s family size was 2.4 people per household on average. With regard to China, the number was 3.02 (The National Health and Family Planning Council, 2014).

The causes of above distinctions can be divided into three aspects. To begin with, different cultures contribute to these distinctions. British aspire to independence and freedom. However, Chinese family prefer to live together. The second reason is the one-child police in China, which results in a sharp decrease in the number of children. The fact is supported by Guo (2014, cited in Howden & Zhou, 2014, p.354) and Lu (2013, cited in Howden & Zhou, 2014, p.354), who estimated that “the 1CP prevented 400 million births between 1979 and 2009, almost 25 per cent of China’s present population.” Finally, different pension modes impact on the family structure of China and the UK. As British social security system is very sound, the elderly need not to live with their children to contain the living standards. Conversely, Chinese elderly people are supported by families. It limits the independence of the elderly and brings pressure on young couples, which in turn make them tend to have fewer children to reduce this stress.

There comes to be some consequences of these differences. First of all, the decrease in the number of children helps to promote the position of Chinese women. Gender plays a significant role in traditional Chinese family structure, as the male have more discourse power in the family. However, Fong (2002, cited in Feng et al., 2014, p.21) indicates that the circumstance transforms when the only child is a daughter. There is no other choice for only-daughter Chinese families and they have to cultivate the only daughters the same as sons, which makes a contribution to equality between sexes in both personal development and marital relations. On the other hand, it also brings drawbacks. Only children are usually spoiled, unlike the UK’s families, most Chinese families will meet all the requirements of the only child. As a consequence, only children often behave selfish and lack of self-care ability, which is very harmful to their long-term development. Lastly, Chinese are easy to worry about the future, whereas British need not to think much about the old age. Chinese face to strong pressure of life and have to work hard to improve their living standards,

Having considered family structure, now I will move on to labour market. In aspect of labour market, the similarities come to be two. Firstly, in China and Britain, personal income tax additional rates are the same. According to GOV.UK (2014), the income tax additional rate is 45% from 6 April 2014 to 5 April 2015. Although China and the UK’s personal income tax thresholds are different, both of their additional rates are 45%. Furthermore, the second similarity is approximate social security rates for employees. In China it is 11% while in the UK it comes to be 12%, which is very close to China’s.

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In addition to the similarities, there are two differences. Initially, China has a bigger labour force population than the UK. According to Casale and Zhu (2013), at the beginning of 2012, China had 764 million population in employment. With regard to the UK, the number of employment was 30.79 million (ONS,2014). Another difference is protection for workers. There is little workers’ hurt in the UK, whereas China has many reports about hurt and injustice for workers. For example, since January 23, 2010 to November 5, 2010, Foxconn, the world’s biggest contract electronics supplier, had occurred 14 suicide incidents, which shocked the whole China, and some media outlets said that pressure was to blame.

Two reasons for these differences will be analysed. The main reasons for these distinctions are due to the different population and socio-economic development status. Initially, one of the main reasons is different population. The total population of Chinese mainland was about 1.34 billion, whereas the UK’s population was 64.1 million (ONS, 2014). Enormous population disparities lead to a huge difference in labor market scales between the two countries. A further reason comes to be different social and economic development status. The UK is a mature developed country whereas China is a developing country with many aspects imperfect. Economic profits are focused on while workers’ rights, which should be taken into consideration, are ignored.

These differences in labour market also bring three different influences on people’s lives in the two countries. One of the effects is the different labour cost. China’s labour cost is obviously lower than the UK’s. British are reluctant to do physical labour. For example, in China, if a customer buy the floor, the shop usually is responsible for free installation, when it comes to the UK, the installation fees may be more expensive than the floor itself. Another influence on employees is working hours. Chinese people tend to work for longer time than British, as supported by Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (2013), who resealed that Chinese worked 2209 hours per year on average in 2009, while in the same year the British annual working time was 1651 hours. The fierce competition makes Chinese work hard under great stress. The last impact is gender discrimination and it becomes a problem in China that female candidates are treated unfairly. As recruiters have bigger options, if they can choose a man, they will not select a woman, because women may need maternity leave in the future.

In this essay, the similarities and differences of family structure and labour market are indicated between China and the UK. These differences are caused by many aspects, which vary in societies, economy, culture and laws. By analyzing these differences, some disadvantages in China’s development have been discovered. In terms of one- child police and labour protected, much work should be done to reduce the negative effects and protect the interests of vulnerable groups.

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