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Different countries and fields of study differ in determining the age group of youth. Based on the census result from the National Bureau of Statistics and the situation of Chinese youth, the age group of youth is defined as those from 15 to 29 years old. Therefore, Chinese youth described in this chapter refers to the age group of 15-29 living in the Chinese mainland, not including youth from Hong Kong, Macao Special Administrative Regions and Taiwan Province. According to China’s fifth census conducted in 2000, the youth population in the Chinese mainland is 315 million, accounting for 25.36% of the total population. Based on the sampling survey of 1 %0 of the total population carried out by the National Bureau of Statistics in past years, the proportion of youth from 15 to 29 to the total population is 26.29%, 25.73%, 25.50%, 24.59%, 23.68%, 23.59%, 23.30% and 22.76% in 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999,2001,2002 and 2003 respectively. The proportion of Chinese youth population to the total population is decreasing.
In this chapter, the author gives a comprehensive overview of the social and cultural contexts in which mainland Chinese youth live and grow, describes the characteristics of contemporary Chinese youth and helps readers to understand what challenges they face in an era of social transformation. In order to understand Chinese youth’s experiences during the social changes described by the author, it is helpful to discuss the social and cultural differences in defining youth between China and US, adolescent and youth development, social change and youth, factors moderating youth developmental process, as well as the effects of the social changes on youth’s well-being and prevention and intervention for youth’s maladjustment.