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Impact Of Cultural Revolution On Society And The Economy Of China

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Cultural Revolution had negative effects on Chinese society and economy which were evident during the actual revolution period and thereafter. The basis of china’s Cultural Revolution was that learning undertaken in school had to be simpler where level of intelligence would no longer be gauged in terms of the number of books read by students. Cultural Revolution emphasized on practical work which made graduates to be transferred to farmlands from where they were to receive farming tactics as additional skills to what they had learnt in colleges. Farm production was also affected by Cultural Revolution which led to reduction in produce particularly in cotton and rice. This led to starvation for Chinese citizens as well as reduction of income for those who entirely depended on farm produce for their living.


Cultural Revolution that occurred in China began in the year nineteen sixty six and continued for a period of ten years. It was led by Mao Zedong whose main intention was to set up a bureaucracy that was more effective than the one existing before then. Mao mobilized young people who were given the task of campaigning for socialism all over China. However, Cultural Revolution resulted to adverse effects rather than improving China’s situation. The major area affected was China’s economy whose effects were later spread to the entire Chinese society. (Brugger, 1994)

Cultural Revolution Impact on China’s Economy

The collapsing of China’s economy serves as the greatest negative effect that resulted from Cultural Revolution. This downfall first affected production levels where annual production of both cotton and rice decreased dramatically to a point that the produced amount could not feed Chinese population. This led to an increase in prices of rice as well as clothes made from cotton forcing Chinese citizens to pay more in order to buy food and clothes. Industrial production in China was equally affected leading to increased transportation costs, which were difficult for Chinese citizens to afford as they traveled in search for food. Since Cultural Revolution supported socialism, several people were forced to surrender their possessions which were later divided among the less privileged. The most affected were landowners as well as those belonging to high class as socialism required them to even surrender some of their jobs in order to conform to its requirements. The optimal situation of China’s economy during Cultural Revolution was an imbalance between agriculture, industrial output and transportation. (Brugger, 1994)

Cultural Revolution Impact on Society

Economic effects spread within Chinese society whereby citizens who lost jobs sought refuge in peasantry. This became a turning point for the life of most Chinese citizens who had not practiced farming before but were forced by prevailing hardship situations. Birth control was also abandoned which resulted to an increased rate of birth as depicted in increased family sizes. This caused more problems within families since life was already difficult and larger families only made it worse as they called for higher expenses. Cultural Revolution effects were experienced even in learning institutions where some students were made to leave schooling and join their parents in searching for a living. Those who were left encountered changes in learning curriculum where Cultural Revolution values were incorporated and had to be learnt by students prior to graduation. This led to dropping out of students who were not in a position to complete Cultural Revolution related courses. Cultural Revolution gave students who persevered until they graduated a hard time since it required them to move to farmlands in order to receive more learning from farmers. This did not work well as most of them remained there where they worked as farmers and manual laborers after having acquired education in other better professions. (Esherick, 2006)


By the time China’s Cultural Revolution was coming to an end there were several changes in the economy and Chinese society as a whole. Young people’s lives were wasted because those who had spent a lot of time in classes learning concepts to assist them develop their careers were not offered an opportunity to exercise them. Economic downfall resulted to financial hardships making some students to stop schooling since their parents could not afford food as well as school fees for them. However, there were Chinese citizens who took advantage of the Cultural Revolution and experienced positive changes in the process of escaping hardships. Although Cultural Revolution ended, its effects took a longer period to be over because it had “dug deep” into peoples’ lives and China’s economy as a whole. (Esherick, 2006)


Brugger B. (1994): Politics, economy and society in contemporary China, Stanford: Stanford University Press pp49-57

Esherick J. (2006): The Chinese cultural revolution as history, North Carolina: Elsevier publishing pp18-22

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