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The challenges facing young workers during rural labor transition


  • Xiaofei Li
  • Chengfang Liu
  • Renfu Luo
  • Linxiu Zhang
  • Scott Rozelle


Purpose - The paper aims to discuss whether the younger generation of China's rural labor force is prepared, in terms of education level or labor quality, for the future labor markets under China's industrial upgrading. Design/methodology/approach - Using nationally representative survey data, the paper gives detailed discussions on the young rural laborers' education attainments, and their off-farm employment status including job patterns, working hours, and hourly wage rates. The relationship between education and employment status is analyzed and tested. Through these discussions, an employment challenge is revealed, and some policy implications are made. Findings - This paper finds that China's young rural laborers are generally poorly educated and mainly unskilled. They work long hours and are low paid. While they lack the labor quality that will be required to meet the industrial upgrading, an employment challenge may face them in the near future. This paper also finds a strong link between education levels and employment status for the young labor force, which implies the possible effect of policies such as improving rural education. Originality/value - Based on a solid foundation of a national rural household survey, this paper updates the understanding of the education and employment situations of the young rural labor force in contemporary China. The concern about the employment challenges raised in the paper is related to the future of China's rural labor transition and the whole economy.

Suggested Citation

  • Xiaofei Li & Chengfang Liu & Renfu Luo & Linxiu Zhang & Scott Rozelle, 2010. "The challenges facing young workers during rural labor transition," China Agricultural Economic Review, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 2(2), pages 185-199, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eme:caerpp:v:2:y:2010:i:2:p:185-199

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    Cited by:

    1. Hongbin Li & Prashant Loyalka & Scott Rozelle & Binzhen Wu, 2017. "Human Capital and China's Future Growth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 31(1), pages 25-48, Winter.
    2. Qiang Li & Jikun Huang & Renfu Luo & Chengfang Liu, 2013. "China's Labor Transition and the Future of China's Rural Wages and Employment," China & World Economy, Institute of World Economics and Politics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, vol. 21(3), pages 4-24, May.
    3. Schucher, G√ľnter, 2014. "A Ticking "Time Bomb"? Youth Employment Problems in China," GIGA Working Papers 258, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies.


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