From the New York Times:
Imagine you have to make a bet.
There are two 18-year-olds, one in China, the other in the United States, both poor and short on prospects. You have to pick the one with the better chance at upward mobility.
Which would you choose?
Not long ago, the answer might have seemed simple. The “American Dream,” after all, had long promised a pathway to a better life for anyone who worked hard.
But the answer today is startling: China has risen so quickly that your chances of improving your station in life there vastly exceed those in the United States.
China is still much poorer over all than the United States. But the Chinese have taken a commanding lead in that most intangible but valuable of economic indicators: optimism.
In a country still haunted by the Cultural Revolution, where politics are tightly circumscribed by an authoritarian state, the Chinese are now among the most optimistic people in the world — much more so than Americans and Europeans, according to public opinion surveys.
What has changed?
Most of all, an economic expansion without precedent in modern history.
Eight hundred million people have risen out of poverty. That’s two and a half times the population of the United States.
Not only are incomes drastically rising within families, but sons are outearning their fathers. That means expectations are rising, too, especially among China’s growing middle class…