China's Race to Urbanize

By 2020, the Chinese state plans to remake Beijing and its surrounding region into a megacity of 130 million people. Projects like this, albeit smaller in scale, are ongoing across China today. This massive urbanization is being driven by bankrupt local governments, which are recovering from steep deficits through land sales and redevelopment, now the source of 77% of government revenues nation-wide.

Welcome! I am an assistant professor of sociology at Boston College. In my research, I use ethnography to show how the movement of people shapes global capital flows. My work focuses primarily on migrations in Asia and Asian America.

Below, you can find various themes of my past and ongoing research.

Capital Flows from Asia to the U.S.

Recent political destabilization has pushed many Chinese nationals to move their wealth to the U.S. A linked network of brokers, from Chinese "real estate tour companies" to American realtor associations and city development authorities, is guiding this capital outflow. At its center is the U.S. EB-5 visa program, offering permanent residency to wealthy Chinese nationals able to make substantial capital investments to American commerce.

Julia Chuang

Structural Shift in the Chinese Economy

The Chinese state is currently shifting from an export-centered growth model to one focused on domestic infrastructure and urbanization. This shift is changing the foundations of the economy. If China's comparative advantage was previously its low-cost labor, then today its most-valued commodity is land, the cornerstone of its recent and rapid urbanization.