China’s Invisible Crisis: How the Urban-Rural Human Capital Divide Threatens China’s Growth and Stability


Past Event

China’s Invisible Crisis: How the Urban-Rural Human Capital Divide Threatens China’s Growth and Stability

April 5, 2019
12:15 PM - 1:45 PM
Room C06, Columbia School of Social Work

About the event

To most, China’s future seems certain. Marveling at its stratospheric growth, observers have christened it “the inevitable superpower.” In this lecture, Prof. Rozelle will attempt to show that, in fact, China faces a massive crisis hidden even to most Chinese. China achieved rapid growth by welcoming investment in low-skill, labor-intensive industries. Key to that process were armies of unskilled rural workers with elementary or middle school educations. But now, as wages rise, manufacturing flees to Southeast Asia and elsewhere, and automation progresses, many of these workers are ill-equipped for jobs in a new knowledge economy.

Drawing on data collected over four decades spent studying and working in rural communities across China, Prof. Rozelle will argue that while China’s cities have succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest imagination, the overlooked rural population—who make up the vast majority of the population—is being left behind. Hundreds of millions of people could soon be without stable work, with grave potential costs in China and around the world. This is a study of the failure of China’s rural education policy and an empirical story of China’s Invisible Crisis.

Lunch will be provided. Join us in person or via livestream on April 5, Friday, 12:15 PM - 1:45 PM in Room C06, Columbia School of Social Work. 

About the Speaker

Scott Rozelle holds the Helen Farnsworth Endowed Professorship at Stanford University and is Senior Fellow and Professor in the Freeman Spogli Institute (FSI) for International Studies. Dr. Rozelle's research focuses on the economics of poverty—with an emphasis on the economics of education and health. Dr. Rozelle is the co-director of the Rural Education Action Project (REAP) and is an adjunct professor in 8 Chinese universities. In 2008, Dr. Rozelle was awarded the Friendship Award—the highest honor that can be endowed on a foreign citizen—by Premiere Wen Jiabao.




This event is part of the 2018-2019 Policy and Society in Contemporary China Lecture Series, cosponsored by the China Center for Social Policy and Weatherhead East Asian Institute, and supported by CSSW, GSAPP, and Columbia Global Centers | Beijing.

Columbia Affiliations
China Center for Social Policy