Common Prosperity for Rural China: How the Rural-Urban Divide Threatens China’s Rise (Scott Rozelle, Stanford University)
Mon, 03/04/2024, 4:00pm-5:30pm

Monday, March 04, 2024
4:00pm - 5:30pm ET
Rutgers Academic Building, West Wing Room 6051

Contact: Carl Pray (


China has grown at a remarkable rate for the past four decades. The long-run plan for the nation is to continue steady growth over the next 15 years and achieve a level of high income. China’s leaders know, however, that they face a challenge in keeping growth moving. It is no secret that China’s inequality is one of the highest in the world. China’s leaders are clearly well informed of this challenge, and, in no small part in response to this challenge, have launched a major new policy effort called Common Prosperity. We believe that to develop an environment in China in which all residents will be able to enjoy the prosperity that the nation is moving towards, the it is essential to include a major effort in the area of Early Childhood Development (ECD) … with the most a focus on the rural population. This presentation’s main goal is to illustrate that Common Prosperity should begin by solving China’s biggest problem of it little people (young rural children). To do so, we will have five specific objectives. First, we will summarize the literature that shows that having a well-educated labor force is essential for helping a nation’s economy move from middle to high income. Second, we will show that there is high inequality in the levels of education in China. The paper will illustrate how poor ECD outcomes are a very important reason underlying the poor levels of education in China’s rural schools. Third, we will demonstrate that there is a serious problem of poor ECD outcomes across broad swaths of rural society. Fourth, we will document that one of the major sources of this problem is the absence of psycho-stimulating inputs by caregivers to their young children. Finally, we will document that there are clear solutions to these problems and conclude that the government needs to take rapid action to launch parental training programs across rural China in the very near future.To meet these objectives, we will draw on the findings of literature as well as data sets that have been collected by myself and my colleagues. These sources of information will provide high quality empirical evidence that will show that Common Prosperity should focus serious attention on rural families and provide them with the training and support so all rural children can grow up in an environment in which they can thrive.

About the Speaker

Image of Scott RozelleScott Rozelle is the Helen F. Farnsworth Senior Fellow and the co-director of the Rural Education Action Program in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. He received his BS from the University of California, Berkeley, and his MS and PhD from Cornell University. Previously, Rozelle was a professor at the University of California, Davis and an assistant professor in Stanford’s Food Research Institute and department of economics. He currently is a member of several organizations, including the American Economics Association, the International Association for Agricultural Economists, and the Association for Asian Studies. Rozelle also serves on the editorial boards of Economic Development and Cultural Change, Agricultural Economics, the Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, and the China Economic Review.

His research focuses almost exclusively on China and is concerned with: agricultural policy, including the supply, demand, and trade in agricultural projects; the emergence and evolution of markets and other economic institutions in the transition process and their implications for equity and efficiency; and the economics of poverty and inequality, with an emphasis on rural education, health and nutrition.

Rozelle's papers have been published in top academic journals, including Science, Nature, American Economic Review, and the Journal of Economic Literature. He is fluent in Chinese and has established a research program in which he has close working ties with several Chinese collaborators and policymakers. For the past 20 years, Rozelle has been the chair of the International Advisory Board of the Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy; a co-director of the University of California's Agricultural Issues Center; and a member of Stanford's Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center and the Center on Food Security and the Environment.

In recognition of his outstanding achievements, Rozelle has received numerous honors and awards, including the Friendship Award in 2008, the highest award given to a non-Chinese by the Premier; and the National Science and Technology Collaboration Award in 2009 for scientific achievement in collaborative research.