WASHINGTON, Pa. (April 27, 2012)—Armed with an ASIANetwork/Freeman Foundation grant, a Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) professor and four students will spend part of the summer studying abroad, taking an up-close look at the economy in China.
Yongsheng Wang, Ph.D., assistant professor of economics and director of financial economics at W&J, will be joined by two economics majors and two international studies majors investigating the impact of recent labor shortages in China.
The summer 2012 ASIANetwork Freeman Student-Faculty Fellows Program will be the 14th funded by the Freeman Foundation to support collaborative undergraduate research in East and Southeast Asia. More than $434,000 will be allocated to 14 faculty mentors and 62 undergraduate students.
Joining Wang will be juniors Aaron Szafran, McKenzie Graf, Alex Smith and Savannah Sprowls.
“Labor is a very important element in China, as is the composition of the workforce,” said Wang, adding this is the first time the College has received the grant. “We care about the Chinese economy. It is very much intertwined with the economy here.”
Each member of the W&J research team will explore a topic closely linked to increasing problems faced in various Chinese locations due to recurrent labor shortages. Students will study the response of employers to labor shortages, which vary from raising wages to developing other non-wage incentives; the impact of the massive Chinese stimulus package focused on interior and rural China on the migration of workers from these regions to coastal areas; recurrent patterns of migration in the Chinese labor market and the causes of these patterns; and the benefits and costs considered by plant owners and managers opting to relocate to inland cities or to hire undocumented workers from neighboring countries such as Vietnam and Laos.
Research will be undertaken during a four-week period spent in Qingdao, Shanghai, Wuhan and Shenzhen, Wang said.
“Hopefully, our visit will offer us a deeper understanding of the Chinese manufacturing sector and economy,” Wang said. “This is a student-driven, faculty-led project. We will all work together as a team.”
Wang said the grant would not have been possible without the support of the College.
“We believe this is a good topic to research, as an interdisciplinary learning approach is common in the liberal arts. We are focused. We are good at what we do. Learning, to me, has no boundaries. It is a search for knowledge.”