On the basis of survey data on Chinese private enterprises over the years, we try to respond to the classic subject of “the social composition of private entrepreneurs (siyingqiyezhu 私营企业主).” In nearly forty years of development, the overall composition of private entrepreneurs has undergone major changes. The group contains a growing proportion of people who have a market background and higher education and are non-political CPCs. On further classifying the occupational mobility of private entrepreneurs into categories such as “xiahai 下海” (jump into business), “gaizhi 改制” (restructuring), “kuajie 跨界” (crossover), “tiaoban 跳板” (springboard) and “caogen 草根” (grassroots), we find there are significant differences in the occupational mobility of entrepreneurs in large, medium, and small enterprises in terms of what they did before they founded their businesses. In particular, entrepreneurs in large enterprises are more likely to have “jumped into business” from inside the government system or after restructuring, while most small and medium entrepreneurs develop outside the system. Multiple regression and coefficient clustering analysis shows that education level and political status have varying effects on the occupational mobility of entrepreneurs in terms of class and cohort.
Fan, X. & Lu, P. 2019. “The Social Composition of China’s Private Entrepreneurs: Class and Cohort Differences”, Social Sciences in China, Vol 40, No.1, pp.42-62