New York Times article about American college graduates getting jobs in China. I just spent 10 days in China teaching at Peking University. And had dinner with a 2007 Duke graduate, Damjan Denoble, who also attended and blogged the classes. He has also started a business in China.
He has several recent posts that are interesting, one responding to a comment on freeforall from another Duke student, Danny Mammo, about how doctors are paid in China and the incentives involved.
Here is Damjan's blog of the last lecture I gave at Peking University. Interestingly, they asked me to talk about the current US reform which wasn't the plan at the start of the week. So, I tried to give them more a 'what not to do' as opposed to telling them 'what to do' in large part because I am not sure what they should do. Of particular worry was two things I heard. (1) many students saying to me they could incentivize the uptake of private insurance via making employer paid premiums tax free...good way to boost it in the short run, but later.....(2) And one student said payroll taxes would be a good way to fund insurance for elderly Chinese because China has ended its one child policy, and now couples can have two, so there will be lots of payroll tax payers over the next 30 years or so (they have set goal to cover all persons within 20-30 years)! I almost fell on the ground and had a seizure and muttered to him "but if the next generation is smaller there will be a financing problem" and he said "we will worry about that then!"
Damjan also has an interesting post of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and prescribing generally in Chinese health reform. This post notes that nearly half of chinese expenditures are for medicines which is much higher than high income nations (US and most of the usual suspects are between 10-15% of total system spending). Now physicians, whether TCM or western trained both prescribe and dispense and the dispensing is a large source of income. Damjan and others think this needs to be separated, but the cultural context is important.
The last day I was in China I was just loitering around and went into a very large drugstore. It was fascinating. They had raw ingredients for traditional chinese medicine (like herbs, roots, animal parts, etc.) and they would compound a medicine for you. They also had packaged TCM, much of it with English labels because lots is exported apparently. This was more likely to be things I had heard of like Gingko Biloba, or ginger or ginseng, etc. but lots of other stuff too. And they also had western medicine, including pharmaceuticals for sale. A quick look showed several anti-biotics (Cipro, Amocicillin), blood pressure medicine (nifedipine), and Selexa, which I think is an anti-depressant. I think for lots of folks, especially those with little money, the pharmacy and the pharmacist serves as a type of primary care doctor.
Bottom line from my visit to China:
(1) I think I am going to try and learn some chinese. Both so I can speak a bit if I go back and teach, but also just a nagging in my gut that told me it will increasingly be important to communicate in Chinese.
(2) Paradox. If you like markets, you will love China. There is a market for everything. It is essentially the Wild Wild West, but with 1.4 Billion people and the biggest army in the world. And getting ready to celebrate 60 years (on Oct. 1) since the founding of the people's republic of China where Hu Jintao will review the People's Liberation Army marching past in front of the picture of Mao Zedong in Tianamen Square and then saying that unfettered capitalism is just the next step in Chinese socialism.... I am sure we Americans are paradoxical from afar (heck from up close).
All in all, a great trip.