China’s most important border is imaginary: the Hu Line

First drawn in 1935, Hu Line illustrates persistent demographic split – how Beijing deals with it will determine the country's future.

Credit: Tomaatje12, CC0 1.0 – Public domain.
  • In 1935, demographer Hu Huanyong drew a line across a map of China.
  • The 'Hu Line' illustrated a remarkable divide in China's population distribution.
  • That divide remains relevant, not just for China's present but also for its future.

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One year of COVID-19: What will we learn?

Pandemics have historically given way to social revolution. What will the post-COVID revolution be?

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  • The US is approaching 500,000 COVID-19 deaths. What can we learn from one year of loss and chaos?
  • The lessons are clear. Among them are realizing our fragility as a species, our codependence as humans, and the urgent need to move beyond social injustice and inequity.
  • As with the Renaissance following the Black Plague of the 14th century and the explosive creativity of the 1920s post Spanish influenza, this is our turn to redefine the course of history. Let's not mess this up.
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The social determinants of health, explained

Want to tell someone's future in the US? You don't need a crystal ball, just their zip code.

  • Social determinants of health, such as income and access to healthy food, affect well-being long before people may enter medical facilities.
  • They're one reason neighborhoods in the same city can maintain life expectancy gaps larger than a decade.
  • With growing awareness of how societal ills determine health, medical professionals and their partners are devising more holistic approaches to health.
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Black households face greater financial devastation due to COVID-19 shutdowns

New research spotlights how low-income Black households face greater financial distress and vulnerability as a result of the pandemic economic crisis.

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  • A paper by a team of Princeton researchers highlights devastating socioeconomic inequalities between racial groups worsened by the pandemic shutdowns.
  • By the middle of June, the rates of new debt were similar for Black and Latinx households at more than 80%, while about 70% of white households reported new debt.
  • When the pandemic ends, tens of millions of households will still find themselves stuck in a devastating financial hole, and a disproportionate amount of those will be Black and Latinx households.
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The neoliberal era is ending. What comes next?

The next era in American history can look entirely different. It's up to us to choose.

  • The timeline of America post-WWII can be divided into two eras, according to author and law professor Ganesh Sitaraman: the liberal era which ran through the 1970s, and the current neoliberal era which began in the early 1980s. The latter promised a "more free society," but what we got instead was more inequality, less opportunity, and greater market consolidation.
  • "We've lived through a neoliberal era for the last 40 years, and that era is coming to an end," Sitaraman says, adding that the ideas and policies that defined the period are being challenged on various levels.
  • What comes next depends on if we take a proactive and democratic approach to shaping the economy, or if we simply react to and "deal with" market outcomes.

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