On the afternoon of June 26, 2019, Dr. Liang Zai, a distinguished professor of Sociology at Xi’an Jiaotong University, lectured on Urbanization and Children in China.
Liang Zai received a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Chicago and conducted post-doctoral research at Brown University. He is currently Professor of Sociology at the University at Albany and Distinguished Professor at Xi’an Jiaotong University. He is the former chair of the Asia and Asian-American section of the American Sociological Association.
Dr. Liang Zai said in his lecture that the fast-paced urbanization during the past three decades was to a large extent driven by migrants. Children had a significant impact on migrant parents’ intention for long-term settlement, which was exemplified by migrant parents’ hukou conversion in the desired new domicile. However, rural-urban hukou disparities still exist and manifest in new ways.
By analyzing the growth trend and geographical distribution of migrants in China in the past 30 years, Dr. Liang introduced his study on urbanization and children in China. He further explained his study from 4 aspects: the importance of migrant children’s contribution to society, how children affect urbanization, how children impact long-term settlement and hukou conversion for migrant parents and related policy discussions. He thought that migrant children and left-behind children usually have unequal childhoods. Left-behind children often experience long-term separation from their parents, while migrant children usually do not have equal education opportunities and enrollment in public schools and universities compared to children with urban hukou. Those inequalities can lead to bad results. At the end of his lecture, Dr. Liang mentioned that China has already taken action to deal with problems faced by migrant and left-behind children and that, hopefully, such situations will soon be improved.