CARL RISKIN NAMED DISTINGUISHED PROFESSOR AT QUEENS COLLEGE
JUNE 24, 2003 -- Carl Riskin, an internationally recognized economist and specialist on China, has been appointed Distinguished Professor of Economics at Queens College, a title that CUNY awards to only a small number of faculty members. An expert on Maoist and post-Maoist economic development policies, Riskin is widely known for his research documenting widespread poverty and the growing income gap between rural and urban China. His studies, which have led to significant improvements in the Chinese government’s accounting practices and policies, have also set the standard for researching social and economic trends in other developing countries.
Riskin is noted for the human and policy concerns he brings to the field. He is one of a small group of economists who have changed the nature of development economics, focusing the field on the relationships between economic growth and human welfare. “The ethical dimension of economics—its impact on equality and fairness—has been a constant concern of Professor Riskin's scholarship,” says Queens College President James Muyskens. “He is keenly aware that the numbers are not just dry statistics.”
Riskin’s early work analyzed four decades of China’s economic development: from the Revolution, through various phases of Maoist policy such as the “great leap forward,” to the inception of market-oriented reforms in the 1980s. China’s Political Economy: The Quest for Development since 1949 (published in 1987 by Oxford University Press) serves as the definitive study of the interrelations of politics, ideology, technology, and incentives in that nation’s recent economic history.
With his expertise on economic development and his command of Chinese, Riskin was invited to join, and then co-lead, a project to study income distribution with Zhao Renwei, director of the Institute of Economics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Meticulous data analysis by Riskin and his colleagues provided the first detailed information on income trends in recent years.
His findings revealed that the policies underlying market reform had increased income inequality at unprecedented rates, creating a large and growing gap between the wealthy urban coast and the millions of poor Chinese that constitute the rural majority. Moreover, Riskin’s research showed that profound poverty was less regionally confined than was officially recognized; though the Chinese government had identified certain poor counties as eligible for special aid, Riskin established that an almost equal number of needy Chinese lived in other areas.
Over his career, Riskin has been highly regarded for his professional standards. He has produced development studies on China and other nations for the United Nations Development Programme, documenting the effects of globalization on Asian countries and the new republics of the former Soviet Union. Much of his recent work has been devoted to helping international agencies understand the challenges of the global economy.
Riskin obtained his Ph.D. from the University of California in 1969 and has taught economics at Queens College since 1974. Among his many professional affiliations, he is a senior research scholar and adjunct professor at Columbia University’s Weatherhead East Asian Institute. He currently resides on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
According to Louise Mirrer, CUNY’s executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, “The rank of Distinguished Professor is reserved for a very small group of scholars and artists who have truly achieved positions of national leadership in their fields.”
Queens College of the City University of New York (CUNY), founded in 1937 and located on a 77-acre campus in Flushing, enjoys a strong national reputation for the liberal arts and sciences and professional programs. Master’s degrees are offered in nearly 50 disciplines. Queens College was founded on the conviction that a high-quality education should be accessible to talented individuals from all backgrounds. Its 16,000 students come from more than 140 nations and speak 66 languages—creating an extraordinarily diverse, and welcoming, educational environment. Students are taught by an award-winning faculty renowned for scholarship and dedicated to teaching. Many special programs are offered for honors students, students in pre-law, pre-med and business, adult students; weekend learners; and students from disadvantaged backgrounds. For more Queens College news, please visit: http://www.qc.edu/newsmedia.html