The Gaokao and Social Mobility

Today is the gaokao, when parents across China send their senior high school students off to take the most important exam of their lives, offering such helpful, encouraging words as “If you do badly your mother will die in a pauper’s grave.” Clearly in today’s China-A-Go-Go, competition for elite, urban jobs is intense. You don’t want to be left behind in a rapidly stratifying society, and since most families have only one shot at exam success, let’s just say there are a few stressed-out teenagers and parents around town this morning.