Majority of Chinese use self-deprecation to describe themselves

Majority of Chinese use self-deprecation to describe themselves

The 2014 Living Conditions on "diaosi", a report which depicts a profile of the young Chinese working class, was released by the Peking University Market and Media Research Center on Wednesday, the Beijing News reported on Thursday.

"Diaosi", a popular Internet phrase coined in early 2012, was a collective title that Chinese use to describe themselves in a self-deprecating manner to suggest their lack of good looks, wealth and social resources to survive in society. It may be like a Chinese version of underprivileged loser but without the derogatory tone.

A more vivid and typical picture of "diaosi" is given by the report as a young single with low levels of education with an income of 2,917 yuan (S$575) per month at a workplace away from their parents' home.

The survey for the report, which was made in one month from Sep 1 to Oct 1, included 213,795 questionnaires with the respondents mainly being real users registered at, a Craigslist-like top online and mobile-based information portal in China, covering more than 50 cities of different sizes.

The survey shows that 62.2 per cent of respondents, most between ages 21 to 30, classify themselves as "diaosi". "Grass-roots worker" is a common shared identification for them. Their average income is 2,917.7 yuan a month, while the official monthly average income in Beijing stood at 5,793 yuan in 2013.

Official statistics show that the monthly average income in Beijing stood at 5,793 yuan in 2013. Source: Beijing Statistics Bureau

What "diaosi" care most about are their family members. They give an average of 1,076.7 yuan to their parents each monthly, taking up 36.9 per cent of their average income. Those with children invest almost all income in their offspring, with a monthly average of 2,639.7 yuan.

In more developed regions, increasingly more young employees tend to identify themselves with "diaosi". The percentage of the highly-educated "diaosi" is apparently higher than that with a ninth grade education or less. Staff at private enterprises and the self-employed are more likely to claim the self-mocking title than employees at state-owned enterprises and government units.

Li Xia, a coauthor of the report, said the connotation of "diaosi" has expanded "from a title of a group to a mindset". The popularity of the phrase is something more than self-deprecation. The emergence of the "diaosi" group is a result of fast-speed urbanization and industrialization in China. The stronger vested interest groups have posed as a block, leaving little space for the grassroots to move upward through social ladder.

The diaosi report reveals the current living conditions of a certain group in society from many perspectives, such as family, job, leisure, health and consumption. Li hopes the report will draw governmental and public attention to this special social phenomenon.

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