Those in the villages were amongst the poorest because they, unlike the peasants, did not have children or old parents to balance the consumption of the often inadequate amount of food, although the remittances from their urban parents often made their life better than the peasants'. When Deng's reform began to affect cities in 1984-85, urban individuals experienced new commercial opportunities but limited economic privatization. However, it was difficult for the members of the Red Guards generation to take advantage of these changes. They had been too poor for too long, and a revival of extravagant wedding celebrations from the late 1970s, as Honig and Hershatter point out, had financially exhausted many of them (Dutton, 2004).
They did not have the capital necessary to start a small private business, nor could they borrow capital from the Chinese banking industry which had no procedure to loan to private individuals. Moreover, this generation's economic position suffered disproportionately because of the increasing economic costs of reform. By 1982 most had got a job in state enterprises or at enterprises under various collective ownership. By the mid-1980s most of them had got married and received a salary raise, having 50-60 Yuan a month, still a low-income level.
With a heavier family burden, they had to bear the economic costs of reform that rose higher every year. Deng's decentralization gradually forced all enterprises and institutions on their own, and in order to survive, they had to produce extra resources by collecting fees. (Tsou, 1996) Like everyone else, the Red Guards generation paid new fees, but what they had to pay uniquely was expensive tuition for their kids.
In the mid-1980s, the preschools and elementary schools began to collect 'supporting fees' that could run several times higher than the parents' monthly income, depending on a school's quality and reputation. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, when their kids were at the middle level of education, the middle and high schools also collected various fees.
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