Professor Rachel Murphy

Research Interests
Research Disciplines:
  • Sociology
Research Keywords:
  • Labour migration and urbanisation; education, culture and social mobility; anthropological demography, esp. gender imbalances; rural transformation; social marginalisation and social policy
Research Cluster:


Contact Information
Publications and Research Funding


  • R. Murphy (2020) The Children of China’s Great Migration, Cambridge University Press
  • R. Murphy (2002) How Migrant Labor is Changing Rural China, Cambridge University Press [Chinese edition: 农民工改变中国农村Zhejiang People’s Publishing House, 2009].   


Journal Articles and Book Chapters:

  • R. Murphy, M. Zhou, and R. Tao (2016) ‘Parents’ Migration and Children’s Subjective Wellbeing and Health: Evidence from Rural China.’ Population, Space and Place, 22 (8): 766-780.
  • R. Murphy (2014) ‘Sex Ratio Imbalances and China’s Care for Girls Programme: A Case Study of a Social Problem’, China Quarterly, 219 (Sep): 781-807.
  • M.H. Zhou, R. Murphy and R. Tao (2014) 'The Effects of Parents' Migration on the Education of Children Left Behind in Rural China', Population and Development Review 40 (2) (Jun): 273-292.
  • R. Murphy (2014) ‘School and Study in the Lives of Children in Migrant Families: A View from Rural Jiangxi, China’, Development and Change 45 (1): 29-51.
  • R. Murphy, R. Tao and X. Lu (2011) ‘Son Preference in Rural China’, Population and Development Review, 37 (4) (Dec): 665-690.
  • R. Murphy (2011) ‘Civil Society and Media in China’, in Charting China’s Future: Domestic & International Challenges, ed. by David Shamburg, Routledge, pp.57-66.
  • R. Murphy (2010) 'The Narrowing Digital Divide in China', in One Country, Two Societies: Rural-Urban Inequality in Contemporary China, ed. by M.K. Whyte, Harvard University Press, pp.168-187.
  • M.X. Liu, J. Wang, R. Tao & R. Murphy (2009) 'The Political Economy of Earmarked Transfers in a State-Designated Poor County in Western China', China Quarterly, (Dec): 973-994.
  • M.X. Liu, R. Murphy, R. Tao and X.H. An (2009) ‘Education Management and Performance after Rural Education Finance Reform: Evidence from Western China’, International Journal of Educational Development, 29 (5) (September): 463-473.
  • R. Murphy (2007) ‘Paying for Education in Rural China’, in Paying for Progress in China: Public Finance, Human Welfare and Changing Patterns of Inequality, ed. by V. Shue and C. Wong, Routledge, pp.69-95.
  • R. Murphy (2007) ‘The Paradox of China’s Official State Media Reinforcing Poor Governance: Case Studies of a Party Newspaper and an Anti-Corruption Film,’ Critical Asian Studies, (Mar) 39 (1): 63-88. Reprinted in Murphy and Fong, eds. (2008).
  • Liu L.Q. & R. Murphy (2006) ‘Lineage Identities, Land Conflicts and Rural Migration in Late Socialist China’, Journal of Peasant Studies, 33 (4) (Oct): 612-645.
  • R. Murphy and Ran Tao (2006) ‘No Wage and No Land: New Forms of Unemployment in Rural China.’ In Unemployment in China, Routledge, pp. 126-149.
  • R. Murphy (2004) ‘Turning Chinese Peasants into Modern Citizens: ‘Population Quality’, Demographic Transition, and Primary Schools’, China Quarterly, 177, (Mar):1-20 --- Winner of the Gordon White Prize.
  • R. Murphy (2004) ‘The Impact of Labour Migration on the Well-Being and Agency of Rural Chinese Women’, in On the Move: Women and Rural-Urban Migration in Contemporary China, Columbia University Press, pp.227-262.
  • R. Murphy (2003) ‘Fertility and Distorted Sex Ratios in Rural China: Culture, State and Policy,’ Population and Development Review, 29 (4) (Dec): 595-626.


Edited Books and Edited Special Journal Issues:

  • D. Johnson and R. Murphy (eds.) (2009) Special issue on ‘Education and Development in China’, International Journal of Educational Development, 29 (5).
  • R. Murphy (ed.) (2008) Labour Migration and Social Development in Contemporary China, London: Routledge.
  • R Murphy and V.L. Fong (eds.) (2008) Media, Identity and Struggle in 21st Century China, London: Routledge, first published as special sections in Critical Asian Studies, 39 (1&2)
  • V. L. Fong and R. Murphy (eds.) (2006) Chinese Citizenship: Views from the Margins, London: Routledge.


Recent Presentations:

  • 13th April 2016: Gender and the Wellbeing of Children in Rural China Whose Parents Have Migrated without Them, UWA Economics Department Seminar Series.
  • ‘What Does ‘Left Behind’ Mean in Rural China? Children’s Perspectives’, Conference on Migration, Social Reproduction and Social Protection, University of East Anglia at London, 2nd -3rd April 2012.
  • ‘School in the Lives of Children in Migrant Families: A View from Rural China’, Population Dynamics in South and East Asia, British Academy and Royal Society, 29th-30th March 2012.
  • ‘Sex Ratio Imbalances and China’s Care for Girls Programme’, Seminar Series, Sociology Department, University of Cambridge, 1st March 2012.


Research Funding:

  • British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship – The Children of China’s Great Migration and Urbanisation, 2013 - 2014.
  • British Academy Career Development Grant – Parental Labour Migration and the Wellbeing of Children Left Behind in Rural China, awarded in 2007, postponed till 2009, completed 2012.
  • OUP John Fell Fund Grant – Parental Labour Migration and the Wellbeing of Children Left Behind in Rural China, supplementary support for data gathering, awarded 2009, completed 2012.
  • BICC Small Grant Patrilineal Families and Sex Ratio Imbalances in Rural China, awarded 2007, completed 2011.
  • Nuffield Foundation Small Grant – Sources of Political Will for Social Development (case study of policy measures addressing China’s sex ratio imbalance), awarded 2006, completed in 2012 with supplementary fieldwork supported by BICC at Oxford.
  • International Organisation for Migration – Labour Migration and Social Development in China, to edit a policy-relevant volume, awarded 2006, completed 2008.
  • Oxford Contemporary China Studies Programme Small Grant – Information Communication Technologies in Rural China, awarded 2004, completed 2006.
  • British Academy Joint Activities Grant – Patrilineal Families and Land Conflict in Late Socialist China, awarded 2002, completed 2004.
  • British Academy International Networks Grant (with Vanessa L. Fong) -To co-arrange two international workshops on Chinese Citizenship (one on the citizenship of marginalised people and one on media and citizenship) and to co-edit the proceedings, 2003-2005, completed 2006.
  • Cambridge Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, Support for conference on Chinese Citizenship, 2003.
  • British Council, Support for conference on Chinese Citizenship, 2003.
  • Simon Population TrustPopulation Quality in Rural China, awarded 2000, completed 2003.