Summary of The Mad Grab for Talent in China’s Second-Tier Cities

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In 2017, the number of permanent residents in Shanghai and Beijing was declining for the first time since 1978, and local governments were relieved. While first-tier cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen) are struggling not to surpass population control targets set for 2020, second-tier cities like Nanjing, Wuhan and Chengdu are offering incentives to attract talent. Fu Yifu, an analyst writing for the Suning Institute of Finance, explores these population shifts and the growing intensity of second-tier cities’ battle for college-educated talent. For young people, he points out, material incentives alone aren’t the main driver: Knowing that second-tier cities will offer opportunities matters much more to graduates. getAbstract recommends this article to all those interested in demographics and social engineering.

About the Author

Fu Yifu has a PhD in management from the Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. He writes on macroeconomics, industrial economy, consumer economy and artificial intelligence. 



First-tier Chinese cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen benefit from a virtuous circle: Superior infrastructure and public services, including established universities, attract a continual supply of high-quality students and encourage graduates to stay. With the nation’s top talent clustering in these cities, local economies prosper, thus attracting more talent. 

But as cities grow, they contract “big-city disease”, suffering from symptoms such as pollution, traffic congestion, housing price inflation and public services issues like water shortages. In short, unsustainable population growth in the cities leads to a lower quality of life. To combat these problems, China’s megacities have set targets to keep population numbers below defined thresholds: 23 million for Beijing, 25 million for Shanghai, 15.5 million for Guangzhou and 14.8 million for Shenzhen. In 2016, the number of people in these cities came quite close to these ceilings –which is why first-tier cities are making it increasingly difficult for ...