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"There is Exactly Enough Time Starting Now”: Rural China’s Health, Nutrition and Education Crisis and Future Growth and Instability

Join Scott Rozelle for a talk on the human capital (education and health) crisis that is emerging in rural China.

September 19, 2011 4:00pm to 6:00pm

Speaker: Scott Rozelle, Helen C. Farnsworth Professor in International Agricultural Policy

Despite the recent robust growth, there is increasing concern (supported by recent events and trends in Egypt, Tunisia and Mexico) that as China moves up the income ladder that its high level of inequality may be a breeding ground for future instability. China’s leaders have recently become extremely interested in understanding if anything in the nature of its economy is setting up the country to be headed on a road that could end up in a middle income growth trap.

The recent research of Rozelle and his colleagues address some of these issues—focusing mainly on the human capital (education and health) crisis that is emerging in rural China. Widespread malnutrition and hidden/neglected diseases are undermining government investments in better elementary school facilities and teachers. Rising wages are leading to soaring rates of drop out in junior high school. High tuition and fees for academic high schools and the poor quality of vocational secondary school have reduced the demand for upper secondary education at the very time when the children of this generation should be investing in the skills they are going to need in the next generation (that is, after China’s low-wage industries relocate to other parts of the world as they inevitably will). The talk will also try to put China’s past and present income/human capital inequalities into the perspective of other countries that have attained (and have failed to attain) successfully middle income status.