America’s Lost Work Ethic and the End of its global Exceptionalism – Part 5/5

The educational system and labor market in China are based on merit, while in the United States, the emphasis is on self-esteem and feeling good about oneself.  In America, merit is not important and the happiness of the individual is.

In China, those that work harder and do a better job, regardless of self-esteem or happiness, tend to prosper. in fact, Asian-Americans have the lowest self esteem in the United States.

Gallup studied China’s work ethics. Not surprisingly, the credo “work hard and get rich” is by far the most popular choice, selected by 53% of respondents. About one in four Chinese (26%) opt for “don’t think about money or fame, just lead a life that suits your own tastes,” while less than a tenth of Chinese identify with all the other responses. Perhaps most telling: Only 2% of Chinese choose the collectivist exhortation to “never think of yourself, give everything in service to society.”

In short, it would appear that the country’s commitment to material self-betterment through hard work is firmly rooted and unchallenged.

However, in the United States, a, ABC News Piece said, “Between 1979 – 2007, the income of the top 1% of Americans increased by 275%. For the other 99% of the population, income only increased 29%.”

The problem is that when prices of everyday items such as food goes up due to inflation, many people cannot afford to buy them. In addition, equity in homes, where most of middle class wealth is, lost value.

Chinese Education: Social Life and Work Ethic

  Studies also show that countries that have a large income gap such as the US, also have high numbers of unemployed, incarceration, teen pregnancy, poor health and lower life expectancy. It may not surprise you that Chinese-Americans [including all Asian-Americans] have the lowest teen pregnancy rate too.

In fact, prison inmates by race breaks down to about: African-American 39.4%, White 33%, Latino-Hispanic 20.6%,  and Asian-American 1.7%.

That’s right. For Asians it was one “point” seven percent [1.7%] and Asian-Americans graduate from high school and college in the highest ratios.

In addition, the King’s College of London’s World Prison Population List reports, “The United States has the highest prison population rate in the world,” while China doesn’t even make the top sixteen list.

The US has about 2.3 million people behind bars at 756 per 100,000 people, and China has 1.56 million at 119 per 100,000.

Since the lack of an education often lands Americans in prison, low paying jobs or unemployed, one would think that working hard to earn an education would be popular in the US, but it isn’t. Instead, in the US, it is the old blame game. “It’s the teacher’s fault I earned a failing grade or the class was boring.”

It does not matter if the child does not do homework, study for tests or hates to read [because it gets in the way of video games, Facebook or TV], it’s still the teacher’s fault. However, in China, it is seldom the teacher’s fault and parents often take all or most of the blame for a child’s failure in school.

The Wall Street Journal in From College Major to Career says, “Choosing the right college major can make a big difference in students’ career prospects, in terms of employment and pay… Some popular majors, such as nursing and finance, do particularly well, with unemployment under 5% and high salaries during the course of their careers.”

In addition, the attitude of America’s Baby Boomers is not much better than the children they raised that are now having trouble finding jobs because they did not take earning an education seriously as most Asian-Americans do.

The next question should be, “How long will the United States hold onto global super-power status with attitudes such as these?”

Return to America’s Lost Work Ethic and the End of its global Exceptionalism – Part 4 or start with Part 1


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Subscribe to “iLook China”
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page.

About iLook China

Comments are welcome — pro or con. However, comments must focus on the topic of the post, be civil and avoid ad hominem attacks.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: