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China faces an epidemic of overwork

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Published on : Jun 30, 2014

China is facing an epidemic outbreak of overwork, according to the Chinese social media and the state-controlled press. In a year, around 600,000 Chinese die from working too hard as stated by the China Youth Daily. According to China Radio International in the month of April, there was a death toll of 1,600 every day.

The rising death toll comes as China’s main workforce appears to be getting an upper hand with a shrinking labor pool able to demand higher salaries and factory workers keep going on strikes regularly. However, this message has not yet reached through to China’s white-collar warriors. In exchange for these starting salaries usually double blue-collar pay; they tend to put in extra hours of work on top of the usual eight-hour workdays. This is in violation of the Chinese labor law.

There are many factors which are responsible for the rising death toll. One such reason is the hardworking ethos. According to Jeff Kingston who is the director of Asian Studies in Temple University, China is a rising economy and many people tend to still buy into the hardworking ethos. They have not yet achieved the affluenza which guided the questioning of norms and values in Japan.

Another cause is the excessive overtime. The director of the International Labor Organization, Tim De Meyer stated that they have noticed the issue with excessive overtime in China, and it has become a worry which can be a mental and physical hazard.

Total dedication to work and other work ethics were also considered to be the cause contributing to this epidemic.

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