For the majority of people in China who aren’t born into the elite, it’s becoming harder to climb the social ladder. As is often the case when countries develop, the rich can give their children a leg up using two common pathways to upward mobility: education and property ownership.
The gaokao — China’s notoriously grueling, dayslong college entrance exam — is increasingly seen as more of a barrier to opportunity than a gateway, largely due to a rapidly growing student population and a widening disparity between top schools and all the rest. Housing prices have skyrocketed in booming cities like Shenzhen, putting home ownership out of reach for millions of new arrivals.
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