Yao Lu



Professor Lu received her MS in public health and PhD in sociology from UCLA. Her research focuses on how migration intersects with social and political processes in China. Her current work examines how migration affects the political consciousness and collective action of people who remain in rural China, how the feminization of migration reconfigures gender attitudes and practices in rural areas, and how the migration of parents shapes family dynamics and the well-being of left-behind children.

Professor Lu’s research has been funded by three grants from the National Science Foundation, two grants from the National Institutes of Health (including a K01 Career Development Award), and grants from the Russell Sage Foundation and Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation. She have also collaborated with a team of international scholars to develop and conduct a national survey on the effect of migration on children in China. 

Research Interests

Professor Lu’s research focuses on how demographic forces and inequality influence social and political processes in China. Her current work examines patterns and societal consequences of youth unemployment and underemployment in China.

Recent Publications

  • "Vertical Mismatch and Horizontal Mismatch: Causes and Consequences of Mismatch among Highly-Educated Workers in China,” Educational Research (in Chinese; 2023);
  • “Selection and Description Bias in Protest Reporting by Government and News Media on Weibo,” China Quarterly (2023); 
  • “Parental Migration, Family Instability, and Psychosocial Well-being of Left-behind Children in China: Evidence from Sequence Analysis,” Child Development (2021);
  • “Empowerment or Disintegration? Migration, Social Institutions, and Collective Action in Rural China,” American Journal of Sociology (2019);
  • “Organizational Structure and Collective Action: Lineage Networks, Semi-autonomous Civic Associations, and Collective Resistance in Rural China,” American Journal of Sociology (2017).
Columbia Affiliations
China Center for Social Policy