Invisible China: How the Urban-Rural Divide Threatens China’s Rise | Scott Rozelle

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By National Committee on U.S.-China Relations. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

As its glittering urban skylines attest, China has apparently quickly transformed itself from a place of stark poverty into a modern, urban, technologically savvy economic powerhouse. Scott Rozelle and Natalie Hell show in Invisible China, however, that the truth is much more complicated and perhaps deeply concerning.

China’s growth has relied heavily on unskilled labor. Most of the workers who have fueled the country’s rise come from rural villages and have never attended high school. The unskilled wage rate has been rising for more than a decade, inducing companies inside China to automate at an unprecedented rate and triggering an exodus of those seeking cheaper labor elsewhere.

Drawing on extensive surveys on the ground in China, Dr. Rozelle and Ms. Hell demonstrate that its labor force has one of the lowest levels of education of any country with a similarly large economy. The limited education of so many workers may leave them unable to find work in the formal workplace as China’s economy changes and manufacturing jobs move elsewhere. In Invisible China, the authors speak not only to an urgent humanitarian concern but also to a potential economic crisis that could upend economies and foreign relations around the globe.

On November 2, the National Committee hosted a virtual program with Professor Scott Rozelle and commentator Dr. Qin Gao.

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