The father of a 41-year-old university grad who could not find a job tired to commit suicide because his son's return to the family farm was so shameful, pointing, experts say, to a clash between modern realities and traditional expectations.
Miao Weifang, who graduated in his late-30s from Hebei University, is the only person from his village with a postgraduate degree.
With a degree in contemporary Chinese history, Miao spent three years looking for a job that could allow him to continue writing. Miao returned to the family farm last year, the Hebei Youth Daily reported.
Miao's father, Miao Fengshan, was so disappointed he took an overdose of sleeping pills. "I regret supporting him and thought of relieving my deep sorrow," the father said.
While there are no statistics on how many university graduates have given up on dreams of making it in the big city, there are likely many thousands who tire of grinding it out in jobs they despise and have little opportunity for advancement.
"Returning home doesn't mean failure and staying in big cities is not equal to success. Rural parents should change their mindset that working in their hometown is unacceptable," Xia Xueluan, professor with the Department of Sociology at Peking University, told the Global Times.
"Some mistakenly think it's shameful for their university-educated children to return home," said Xia.
Wang Hongcai, professor of the Institute of Education at Xiamen University, said the issue is common in rural areas.
"The traditional idea that further education equates to wealth and honor played a role in the extreme action of Miao's father," said Wang.