Inequality in China: Challenges to a Harmonious Society

Terry Sicular, Professor, Department of Economics,University of Western Ontario

RSVP required by 5PM December 2

Under the Hu-Wen leadership China announced a shift in its development policy from a policy program that mainly emphasizes economic growth to one that pursues a “harmonious society.” The harmonious society program was a response to rapid increases in inequality during the 1990s, and its aim has been to ensure that the benefits from growth are widely shared. 

In fact, in recent years have the benefits from growth been widely shared?  Has income inequality increased or decreased during the Hu-Wen era?  Drawing on recent findings from the China Household Income Project, a collaborative survey research project monitoring changes in incomes and inequality, Professor Sicular will discuss recent trends in inequality and poverty in China. 

Terry Sicular is Professor of Economics at the University of Western Ontario. She received her doctorate at Yale and has taught at Stanford and Harvard. She is a specialist on the Chinese economy, speaks Mandarin, and has been studying and travelling to China for more than 30 years.  Her recent research examines incomes and inequality in China, as well as related topics such as educational attainment and its intergenerational transmission, and the impact of housing reforms on household income and wealth.  She has published widely in scholarly journals and books, and is as a contributor to and co-editor of Inequality and Public Policy, published by Cambridge University Press (2008).  She has served as a consultant to international donor organizations, and is a leader in the ongoing, China Household Income Project, a collaborative research project that conducts a nationwide household survey and monitors trends in China’s incomes and inequality.

A Seminar Series of the Stanford China Program and the Center for East Asian Studies

The 'rise of China' has become the preoccupation of policy makers, academics, and business leaders from the United States and Japan to Europe. But as Bloomberg News argued in a recent editorial, "they should be more concerned about what happens if the country's growth falters." A China whose growth is slowing would mean a China with less capital to invest, at home and globally, and whose markets and economy would be less able to provide an engine of growth for others, close at hand in Asia and in North America and Europe.

This series of seminars will examine the multitude of challenges now facing the Chinese leadership as they struggle to shift the dynamic of the economy away from its dependence on now shrinking export markets towards increasing demand and consumption at home. Those challenges range from rising inflation, fiscal imbalances, a real estate bubble and struggles over land, growing income inequality, to inadequate health care and pension systems, even to labor shortages. All these must be faced as China faces an important year of political transition to a new leadership, amidst more visible strains on the country's social fabric.

Monday, December 05, 2011 | 12:00 pm — 1:30 pm
Philippines Conference Room, Encina Hall, 3rd Floor

Stanford China Program, Shorenstein APARC
Center for East Asian Studies