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China's New Lost Generation: The Casualty of China's Economic Transformation

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  • Gary Jefferson

    (Brandeis University)

Abstract

China’s surge into global middle-income status over the space of three decades has been spectacular. However, a potentially large and burdensome cost has been imposed on a generation of adolescents and young adults who abandoned the countryside, and with it access to basic education, in order to seek the anticipated advantages of jobs in the country’s burgeoning urban-industrial sector. This large swath of off-farm migrants transformed China. It propelled China to the status of the “world’s factory” and created the scale and accumulated learning-by-doing enabling China’s transition to a “knowledge economy” that no longer depends on the labor of China’s new “Lost Generation.” As the Lost Generation and its left-behind children, who suffer from a chronic lack of schooling, thicken the lower tail of China’s income distribution, it may be the rising, prosperous urban middle class that ultimately incurs the social, economic, and political challenges associated with China’s generation of off-farm migrant households once essential for launching China’s economic ascent.

Suggested Citation

  • Gary Jefferson, 2016. "China's New Lost Generation: The Casualty of China's Economic Transformation," Working Papers 107, Brandeis University, Department of Economics and International Businesss School.
  • Handle: RePEc:brd:wpaper:107
    as

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    File URL: http://www.brandeis.edu/economics/RePEc/brd/doc/Brandeis_WP107.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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