China's Age of Abundance: A Reflection (WANG Feng, University of California Irvine)
Mon, 04/29/2024, 4:30pm-6:00pm

Monday, April 29, 2024
4:30pm - 6:00pm ET
Rutgers Academic Building West Wing Room 6051

Contact:  Xian Huang (


Has China’s rapid economic growth reached to an end? What lessons can one learn to appreciate China’s historical ascendance to material abundance? Based on his newly published book, Professor Wang revisits the four narratives commonly seen to account for China’s spectacular transformation in the last four decades: that China’s growth was preordained, it was guided by state initiated reforms, it relied on a vast reservoir of cheap labor, and that China’s experience is unique. He traces the origins of this transformation, summarizes the paths of China’s rise to material abundance, and revisits its underlying driving forces. He argues that China’s ascendance was in essence an industrialization and urbanization process with special Chinese characteristics, that China’s growth originated from grassroot initiatives in the society, and that China’s cheap labor was good and exploited labor. With the surplus created during this age of abundance beginning to shrink, the Chinese state is facing increasing fiscal challenge as China exits from its age of abundance. Rapid population aging, persistent inequalities, and a return to political rigidity are among the major headwinds that are likely to accelerate the end of this era.

About the Speaker

Image of WANG FengWANG Feng currently holds the position of professor of sociology at the University of California, Irvine. Professor Wang is a scholar with expertise in China’s social and demographic changes, of social inequality, and of comparative population and social history. He is the author of multiple books and many articles in professional journals, books, and other media outlets. His work and views have appeared frequently in major global media outlets. He has served as an expert for the United Nations, the World Bank, and the World Economic Forum, among others. His professional service includes terms as Chair of the Department of Sociology at the University of California, Irvine (2007-2010), Senior Fellow in Foreign Relations and in Global Development at the Brookings Institution, a leading Think-Tank in the United States, and the Director of the Brookings-Tsinghua Center for Public Policy in Beijing (2010-2013). His latest book is China’s Age of Abundance: Origins, Ascendance, and Aftermath (Cambridge University Press, 2024).