Transitional Chinese Society

(China’s Population and Development)

 (Subject to change)


Course Description

China has been undergoing two exceedingly rapid transformations in the past half a century: a demographic transition with dramatic decrease in fertility and mortality, and an economic transition from a planned economy to a market economy. The compressed demographic transition has made China a country with a very low population growth rate and accelerating population aging, and unprecedented economic reform has lifted China to the ranks of middle-income countries. These two historical transformations are not independent of each, but have been closely intertwined. Thus, this course not only introduces various demographic events and socio-economic reforms, but also explores the linkages between population change and socio-economic transformation. We raise a series of questions: What are social and economic implications of one-child policy? How will China’s imbalanced sex ratio at birth influence the marriage market? Will China lose the competitive edge in labor-intensive industry in the near future due to low fertility rates? How can China accommodate the expanding elderly population in the context of frequent migration of young people? Investigations into these questions may provide students with a deeper understanding on China’s contemporary society.


Requirements and Evaluation

Course evaluation will be based on class participation, presentation, and a term-paper. Students are expected to read the assigned materials before class and to participate in group discussions in class. For the term-paper, enrolled students need to select a topic related to demographic and economic transitions, and examine it within the context of the student’s own country. Students will have an opportunity to present a progress report of their term-paper, and a final paper is due at the end of the semester. The paper should have a length of 3,000 English words. This term-paper is expected to follow the style of an academic research paper, consisting of introduction, literature review, findings and conclusion. The course grading is comprised of: Class attendance and discussion (20%), presentation (40%), Term paper (40%).


General Textbook Reference

  • Weeks, John R. 2008. Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues (10th Edition). Belmont, California: Wadsworth Publishing Company.
  • Poston, Dudley.L. and Bouvier, L.F. 2010. Population and Society: An Introduction to Demography. New York: Cambridge University Press.


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