The American Suburb Finds a Second Life in China
The Chinese middle class is growing, and its members need a place to live.
Here in the United States, the former glory of suburban living has eroded; urban renewal has ushered in a more city-centric lifestyle. In China, where the traditional village model is itself disappearing, thriving suburbs dot the outskirts of major metropolises like Beijing and Shanghai. The Chinese middle class is in a period of rapid growth, and its members seek a happy medium between old rural living and the impracticalities of inner-city residence.
Enter: the American-style suburbs, alive and flourishing in the Red Dragon of the East.
At risk of oversimplifying its impeti, suburban growth in industrialized nations tends to come about due to some sort of unsuitability with urban living. In China, where city centers are marked by incredible population density, that unsuitability arrives in the form of a relatively high cost of living with a side of awful pollution. Thus, the periphery areas of many major metropolitan regions are now more populous than the inner cities they surround.
Why is this all important to acknowledge? Because China, even with its recent economic woes, is experiencing a cultural shift not unlike the one the United States went through in the mid-20th century. White collar industries are growing, and with them, the middle class. People are going shopping, buying cars, and exploring the internet (as much as they're able). It's now the biggest middle class in the world, as well as one of the fastest-growing.
If the United States is the most consequential nation in the world (and it would be difficult to argue against that point), China is almost certainly #2. And, in many ways, Xi Jinping's "Chinese Dream" has tied the nation's future goals to similar ideals behind the more-noted American Dream: ambition, creativity, pragmatism, and innovation. The next thirty years will be extremely important for the long-term trajectories of both these mighty nations -- it will be fascinating to watch where each ends up.
Photo credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images
Robert Montenegro is a writer and dramaturg who regularly contributes to Big Think and Crooked Scoreboard. He lives in Washington DC and is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
Pay attention to the decisions made by the provinces.
- China leads the world in numerous green energy categories.
- CO2 emissions in the country totaling more than all coal emissions in the U.S. have recently emerged.
- This seems to be an administrative-induced blip on the way towards a green energy tipping point.
NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller is coming back to Big Think to answer YOUR questions! Here's all you need to know to submit your science-related inquiries.
Big Think's amazing audience has responded so well to our videos from NASA astronomer and Assistant Director for Science Communication Michelle Thaller that we couldn't wait to bring her back for more!
And this time, she's ready to tackle any questions you're willing to throw at her, like, "How big is the Universe?", "Am I really made of stars?" or, "How long until Elon Musk starts a colony on Mars?"
All you have to do is submit your questions to the form below, and we'll use them for an upcoming Q+A session with Michelle. You know what to do, Big Thinkers!
If you want to be a better and more passionate communicator, these tips are important.
If you identify as being a socially conscious person in today's age of outrage, you've likely experienced the bewildering sensation when a conversation that was once harmless, suddenly doesn't feel that way anymore. Perhaps you're out for a quick bite with family, friends, or coworkers when the conversation takes a turn. Someone's said something that doesn't sit right with you, and you're unsure of how to respond. Navigating social situations like this is inherently stressful.
Below are five expert-approved tips on how to maintain your cool and effectively communicate.
Calling all big thinkers!
- The next Mega Millions drawing is scheduled for Oct. 23 at 11 pm E.T.
- The odds of any one ticket winning are about 1 in 300 million.
- This might be a record-setting jackpot, but that doesn't mean you have a better chance of winning.
Or how I learned to stop worrying and love my tsundoku.
- Many readers buy books with every intention of reading them only to let them linger on the shelf.
- Statistician Nassim Nicholas Taleb believes surrounding ourselves with unread books enriches our lives as they remind us of all we don't know.
- The Japanese call this practice tsundoku, and it may provide lasting benefits.
Money makes the world go 'round. Unfortunately, it can make both children and adults into materialists.
- Keeping a gratitude journal caused children to donate 60 percent more to charitable causes.
- Other methods suggested by researchers include daily gratitude reflection, gratitude posters, and keeping a "gratitude jar."
- Materialism has been shown to increase anxiety and depression and promote selfish attitudes and behavior.
The Boring Company plans to offer free rides in its prototype tunnel in Hawthorne, California in December.
- The prototype tunnel is about 2 miles long and contains electric skates that travel at top speeds of around 150 mph.
- This is the first tunnel from the company that will be open to the public.
- If successful, the prototype could help the company receive regulatory approval for much bigger projects in L.A. and beyond.
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