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Wang Feng - UC Irvine. Irvine, CA, US

Wang Feng Wang Feng

Professor of Sociology | UC Irvine


Wang Feng is a leading expert on demography, aging, and inequality.




Wang Feng Publication Wang Feng Publication Wang Feng Publication Wang Feng Publication Wang Feng Publication



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Feng Wang: The Implications of China's Demographic Profile Wang Feng: Chinese Society and Economy after the One-Child Policy China After the One-Child Policy




As a leading expert on demography, aging, and inequality, Wang Feng is Professor of Sociology at University of California, Irvine and Professor (invited) at Fudan University, Shanghai. He was a Nonresident Senior Fellow at Brookings-Tsinghua Center for Public Policy (2013-2016), Senior Fellow at The Brookings Institution (2010-2013), Professor at Tsinghua University (2011-2013) and Invited Visiting Professor at Keio University, Japan. Dr. Wang’s research focuses on social inequality in post-socialist societies, global demographic change and consequences and migration and social reintegration in China. Dr. Wang is the author of multiple award-winning books and is a contributor to leading global media outlets. Dr. Wang’s work has been supported by various funding sources such as Pacific Rim Research Program, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Ford Foundation and American Council of Learned Societies. He served as the chair of the Department of Sociology at UC Irvine, and as an expert and consultant for the United Nations, World Economic Forum, World Bank, and Asian Development Bank.

Areas of Expertise (5)

Comparative Historical Demography

Contemporary Chinese Society

Social Demography

Social Inequality

Post-Communist Societies

Accomplishments (3)

Book Award, Asia and Asian American Section (professional)

2009 American Sociological Association

Best Book Award (professional)

2012 Japanese Population Association

Allan Sharlin Memorial Award for Best Book in Social Science History (professional)

2000 Social Science History Association

Education (3)

University of Michigan: MA, Sociology 1984

Hebei University, China: BA, Economics 1982

University of Michigan: PhD, Sociology 1987

Affiliations (3)

  • Sociological Research Association : Member
  • International Union for the Scientific Study of Population : Member
  • Population Association of America : Member

Media Appearances (6)

‘A sacrifice for a generation’: China scrambles to boost its population with 3-child policy

KCRW  online


Wang Feng, professor of sociology at UC Irvine, says China’s new three-child policy won’t be enough to save the country from a demographic crisis. When the one-child policy was first implemented, Feng says China was focused on increasing the standard of living with the same amount of economic output.

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The Real Reason Behind China’s Three-Child Policy

The New York Times  online


More than five years after the Chinese government abandoned its one-child policy, allowing married couples to have two children, it has now announced that they could have up to three.

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Why China and east Asia’s ageing population threatens global Covid recovery

UCI News  online


But whatever the policy, it’s already too late, said Prof Wang Feng of University of California Irvine, who specialises in Asian demographics. “Chinese authorities, for example, should have already abandoned its birth control policy. It’s outdated. What China needs is not another state policy, but rather a better and fairer society.” Wang said that there are multiple reasons for east Asia’s population dilemma today, for example the lack of gender equality. In many patriarchal Asian societies, women are still expected to fulfil the roles of housework and child bearing, and this is not easy to change overnight.

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China Isn’t Having Enough Babies

The New York Times  online


Fewer babies were born in China last year than in 2017, and already fewer had been born in 2017 than in 2016. There were 15.23 million new births in 2018, down by more than 11 percent from the year before. The authorities had predicted that easing and then abolishing the one-child policy in the mid-2010s would trigger a baby boom; it’s been more like a baby bust.

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As China Lifts One-Child Policy, Many Chinese Respond With Snark

NPR  online


Wang Feng, a University of California, Irvine sociologist who studies China's population policies, says the sarcasm with which netizens regard the policy announcement is telling. "I think the message people are sending out it is: 'Look, you guys, the policymakers, are so out of touch with the Chinese public.' "

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Bringing an End to a Senseless Policy

The New York Times  online


SHANGHAI — CHINA announced last week that it would loosen its famous “one-child” policy, enforced since 1980. The world’s most controversial birth-control policy, initially imposed as an emergency measure at the start of the economic reforms of Deng Xiaoping, seems to finally be on its way out, more than a generation later.

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Event Appearances (3)

China’s New Demographic Reality and the Era of Immigration: the Case of Shanghai

AAS-in-Asia, Association of Asian Studies  Taipei, China


How Much Can We Learn about Future through Seeing History? -- Population Projections for China since 1980

Population Association of America Annual meeting  San Diego


What’s Behind the Shifting Labor Income Age Profiles in China?

Population Association of America Annual meeting  San Diego


Articles (5)

The Social and Sociological Consequences of China's One-Child Policy

Annual Review of Sociology

China's one-child policy is one of the largest and most controversial social engineering projects in human history. With the extreme restrictions it imposed on reproduction, the policy has altered China's demographic and social fabric in numerous fundamental ways in its nearly four decades (1979–2015) of existence. Its ramifications reach far beyond China's national borders and the present generation.

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Changing society, changing lives: Three decades of family change in China

International Journal of Social Welfare

China has witnessed drastic family changes amidst demographic and socioeconomic transitions unprecedented in its history. Using data from three censuses and a national survey, this paper provided a descriptive documentation about the changing patterns in household size and structures from a synthetic life course perspective. By 2010, people below the age of 5 and in their late 20 s and early 60 s were more likely to live in three-generation households than in nuclear households compared with their counterparts in 1982, likely due to needs of childcare.

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4 (Re)emergence of Late Marriage in Shanghai: From Collective Synchronization to Individual Choice

Wives, Husbands, and Lovers

Since 1950, age at first marriage has risen noticeably in both affluent OECD nations and in emergent economies throughout the world. Driving this trend are such structural changes as increasing enrollment of women in postsecond-ary education and expansion of white-collar jobs.

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Government policy and global fertility change: a reappraisal

Asian Population Studies

The role of government policy in fertility change has been a central inquiry in understanding global demographic changes in the last half century. We return to this inquiry with longitudinal data for over 150 countries from 1976 to 2013 and use fixed-effects models to address common methodological concerns. Our results reveal that while government anti-natalist policies fail to show clear effects for all countries included, they are associated with significantly lower fertility in Asia and Latin America, two regions that have seen the most rapid fertility decline.

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Population aging and fiscal challenges in China


The fiscal burden associated with population aging has become an increasingly common concern globally. Rising public spending is driven both by unprecedented population aging and by a shift in resource allocation from the family and kin to the state, accompanied by the development of modern state welfare regimes. Among the countries in the world facing the challenges of a rising fiscal burden, China, with its rapidly aging population and its large-scale welfare expansion, is a case in point.

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