The US global leadership in science and technology has greatly benefitted from immigrants from other countries, most notably from China in the recent decades. However, feeling the pressure of potential federal investigations since the 2018 launch of the China Initiative, scientists of Chinese descent in the United States now face higher incentives to leave the United States and lower incentives to apply for federal grants. Analyzing data pertaining to institutional affiliations of more than 200 million scientific papers, we find a steady increase in the return migration of scientists of Chinese descent from the United States to China. We also conducted a survey of scientists of Chinese descent employed by US universities in tenured or tenure-track positions (n = 1,304), with results revealing general feelings of fear and anxiety that lead them to consider leaving the United States and/or stop applying for federal grants. If the situation is not corrected, American science will likely suffer the loss of scientific talent to China and other countries.

In the past century, China has undergone rapid and dramatic social and economic changes. This article describes trends in educational assortative marriages of cohorts born in 1906–1995 in China. We measure educational attainment relatively as an individual's percentile position in the education distribution of a 10-year birth cohort and study trends using comparable, easy-to-interpret couple rank-rank correlations. We analyze microdata samples from the 1982, 1990, 2000, and 2010 China censuses and the 2015 1% intercensus survey and nationally representative surveys between 1996 and 2018. We find a large and steady increase in educational assortative marriage over the past century, except among those born in 1946–1965, whose schooling and marriage were impacted by the Cultural Revolution. Our study highlights the critical roles of social, political, and economic contexts in shaping trends in educational assortative marriage.


About one in six Asian Americans have fallen victim to anti-Asian racism during the COVID-19 pandemic [J. Lee, K. Ramakrishnan,]. By examining anti-Asian racism in the United States primarily as a domestic issue, most prior studies have overlooked the connections between shifting US-China relations and Americans’ prejudices against the Chinese in China and, by extension, East Asian Americans. This study investigates the patterns and perceptual bases of nationality-based prejudices against Chinese amid the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. Our nationally representative online survey experiment reveals that Americans assess a hypothetical Chinese person in China as inferior in multiple social and psychological characteristics to an otherwise identical Japanese person in Japan or East Asian American. Furthermore, subjects who perceive China as more threatening to America’s national interests assess Chinese more negatively, especially in terms of trustworthiness and morality, suggesting that perceived China threats propel Americans’ negative stereotypes about Chinese. A contextual analysis further indicates that counties with a higher share of Trump voters in 2016 tend to perceive all East Asian–origin groups similarly as a racial outgroup. By contrast, residents in predominantly Democrat-voting counties tend to perceive Chinese in China more negatively relative to Asian Americans, despite broadly viewing East Asians more favorably. Overall, this study underscores the often-overlooked relationships between the prevailing anti-Asian sentiments in the United States and the US-China geopolitical tensions and America’s domestic political polarization.

The Second Demographic Transition (SDT) is a useful theoretical framework for explaining the recent trend in many countries of very low fertility combined with alternative union and family types. Although past studies have observed the SDT in many Western societies, whether it is applicable to East Asia remains unclear. Capitalizing on data from the Chinese Census and China Family Panel Studies, we provide estimates of key behavioral and ideational indicators of the SDT. We find that union formation in China has trended increasingly toward patterns commonly observed in the West, including delayed age of marriage and the common practice of premarital cohabitation. While having a lowest-low fertility rate, China has not experienced rising nonmarital childbirths, a key component of the SDT. However, we observe growing tolerance toward nonmarital childbearing and childlessness. Marriages remain relatively stable in China, especially among couples with children. Taken together, our analysis suggests that typically coincident changes in patterns of family behavior associated with the SDT are not occurring simultaneously in China. Moreover, ideational changes are preceding behavioral changes, particularly in attitudes toward nonmarital childbearing and childlessness. Our research suggests a different pattern of the SDT in China, which has been heavily influenced by Confucian culture.

In the past four decades, sexuality research in China has made considerable advancements. From historical and sociological perspectives, our study reviews the literature and provides a comprehensive overview of sexuality in contemporary China by drawing on recent survey data that we collected. First, we introduce sexuality in ancient and modern China and discuss the social contexts that gave rise to a sexual revolution in China. Second, we briefly review empirical research on sexuality in China. Finally, we present results on recent changes and socioeconomic patterns of sexual attitudes and behaviors based on our survey—the 2020 Chinese Private Life Survey. A cohort analysis reveals that sexual attitudes have become more liberal in China, with an earlier sex debut and more diverse sexual activities. Surprisingly, however, we find that sexuality seems to have diminished in its appeal among young cohorts, who have lower rates of sexual frequency than preceding cohorts. In addition, we find a reversal in educational gradient in relation to sexual activeness and diversity. Among those born before 1980, highly educated Chinese are more sexually active, while among those born after 1980 the lower educated are more sexually active—in terms of their sexual activity with their partners, seeking out sexual partners online, and engaging in commercial sex. Compared with women, men have higher levels of sexual well-being.

A large body of research has well established that Asian Americans have achieved equal and sometimes superior socioeconomic status compared to that of Whites since the civil rights movement (13). A salient feature of the Asian American population is their very high educational achievement relative to Whites and other racial groups. Indeed, it has been proposed that Asian Americans have resorted to formal education as a channel of social mobility to safeguard against potential racial discrimination toward them in American society (46).

Due to their socioeconomic success, Asian Americans have been stereotypically called the “model minority” in popular media. The social reality, however, is far more complicated than what the “model minority” label supposedly entails. A more apt sociological description would be a “heterogenous minority” (1). While today’s American society is already highly diverse, Asian Americans are even more diverse than Americans in general. Not only are Asian Americans highly heterogeneous in terms of ethnicity, immigration generation, and path of immigration but also in occupation and income (1). For example, a larger portion of Asians live in poverty than do Whites (1). Coined initially for the purpose of political advocacy at the end of the civil rights movement in 1968 (7), the term “Asian Americans” has been used mainly as a convenient label encompassing heterogenous individuals and heterogenous groups of individuals of Asian descent (8). Many Asian Americans still prefer to identify themselves by their ethnicity, such as “Chinese Americans,” “Korean Americans,” and “Indian Americans.”

Capitalizing on longitudinal data from the China Family Panel Studies (CFPS), this study investigates the effect of land expropriation on local political trust in China. Results from individual fixed-effects models reveal that first-time land expropriation lowered farmers’ trust in local cadres. Moreover, we find two mechanisms underlying the relationship between land expropriation and local political trust: subjective quality of life and negative cadre–public interactions. Specifically, land expropriation reduced farmers’ life satisfaction, subjective social status, and confidence about the future and increased their chances of having conflicts with officials and experiencing government inefficiency, thereby diminishing farmers’ trust in local cadres. In addition, auxiliary analysis based on data from the Chinese Household Income Project (CHIP) 2013 suggests that entitling land-expropriated farmers to upgraded pension insurance improved their happiness. Our findings confirm an adverse effect of land expropriation on local political trust and generate some policy implications.

Linking local COVID-19 and population statistics to a U.S.-based survey we recently conducted, we examine the spatial variation in the impact of COVID-19 on Americans’ attitudes toward China. The research strategy capitalizes on differential local COVID-19 incidence rates as varying dosages of COVID-19 impact across local contexts in the United States. Our results reveal negative yet heterogeneous effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on Americans’ attitudes toward China. We find that greater local exposure to COVID-19 is associated with a lower level of trust in Chinese and a less favorable attitude toward China. These findings lend consistent support to behavioral immune system theory by bridging the literature on contextual variations in public attitudes, with broader implications for U.S.-China relations.

In this paper, we study long-term trends in social mobility in the People’s Republic of China since its inception in 1949, with two operationalizations: 1) intergenerational occupational mobility and 2) intergenerational educational mobility. We draw on an accumulation of administrative and survey data and provide comparable estimates of these measures for birth cohorts born after 1945. To help interpret the results, we compare trends in China to those in the United States for the same birth cohorts. We find an increase in intergenerational occupational mobility in China due to its rapid industrialization in recent decades. Net of industrialization, however, intergenerational occupational mobility has been declining for recent cohorts. Intergenerational educational mobility in China shows a similar declining trend. In addition, mobility patterns have differed greatly by gender, with women in earlier cohorts and from a rural origin particularly disadvantaged. We attribute the general decline in social mobility to market forces that have taken hold since China’s economic reform that began in 1978. In contrast, social mobility by both measures has been relatively stable in the United States. However, while social mobility in China has trended downward, it is still higher than that in the United States, except for women’s educational mobility.

The US public holds more nuanced views about China than are typically captured in public opinion surveys. Empirical investigation of a nationwide online survey of US adults shows that the American public is sharply divided over the US–China trade war, despite reporting high support for international trade with China (76%). Using survey questions on US–China trade and the trade war, a typology was developed that indicates more than 40% of US adults support trade with China but oppose the trade war. A slightly smaller share has a more economically militant view of trade with China, supporting trade and the trade war. Political identity is strongly associated with attitudes toward the trade war, but only weakly associated with attitudes toward trade with China. Perceptions about China and its government, people, and culture are highly correlated with views on trade with China but are unrelated to views on the trade war.

China’s impact on the world has been increasing in the past few decades. How is the rest of the world reacting to China’s rise? One way to answer this question is to study public attitudes toward China. This article examines the trends, patterns, and determinants of public attitudes toward China in other countries by analyzing data from opinion surveys in the years 2005 to 2018. Two motivating hypotheses guide this article’s analyses. First, public attitudes toward China in developing or less-developed countries are economy-oriented, with China’s involvement in a local economy leading to a more positive attitude toward the country. Second, public attitudes toward China in developed countries are ideology-oriented, with an emphasis on values and beliefs. The study concludes that public opinion on China has experienced a downward trend overall, especially in developed and democratic countries. Moreover, China’s foreign direct investment in a given country is positively associated with favorable opinion, while Chinese exports to other countries are negatively associated with favorable opinion.


本文使用 2010 年第六次全国人口普查数据和借用美国 O* Net 职业数据库构建了一系列职业特征指标, 并结合中国家庭追踪调查 (CFPS) 2010 年的职业信息数据, 系统分析和探讨了职业特征具体作用于性别收入差距的机制. 研究发现, 在控制了一系列职业特征后的性别效应与控制了 193 个具体的职业类型所得到的性别效应基本一致. 利用 Oaxaca 分解显示, 职业内部的男性比例和不同性别的职业技能是职业特征影响性别间收入差距的重要机制, 而工作环境方面的性别差异并不能用来解释性别间的收入差距. 此外, 我们的分析证实了职业特征在经济发展程度不同的区域存在收入回报的异质性. 本文有助于我们更好地理解中国的性别不平等和收入分层现象.

College graduates earn higher wages than high school graduates by age 30. Among women, the advantages of a college degree decline somewhat as they age, although they are still substantial at age 50; for men, the advantage of a college degree grows throughout the life cycle. Most previous research on returns to higher education has focused on income at a single point in time or averaged over multiple years; our contribution is to study how returns vary by age. We also document how these patterns vary by the propensity of graduating from college. We find modest wage returns for mid-propensity college graduates, but large returns for low-propensity and, for men, high-propensity college graduates. Our results rely on propensity score–based matching combined with multilevel growth curve models applied to data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 cohort.

There are many conflicting theories about the relationship between media reports and public opinion, but few of them are supported by empirical work on large data sets. We use sentiment results on over 260,000 China-related articles in The New York Times to show that events in international relations affect media sentiment which, in turn, affects public opinion. We find that sudden shifts in US-China relations are accompanied by changes in how The New York Times covers China and that the news reporting on China leads public opinion on China by 1 year. Our work illustrates how The New York Times, a prestigious mass media institution, propagates international relation signals to shape American views of the Chinese state and the Chinese people.

Mindset, growth or fixed, refers to two different beliefs people hold about the underlying nature of ability, and was first put forward by the psychologist Carol Dweck. The central role of mindset in motivation, self-regulation and interpersonal processes has been the subject of growing research interest, but there are few discussions of mindset in the context of China. Using the China Family Panel Studies, this study aims to offer a comprehensive understanding of social-demographic correlates of mindset in China. Following the psychological literature, we construct a binary status of mindset via exploratory factor analysis. We find that place of origin (rural or urban), educational level, employment status and life-course events are correlated to mindset. It is also determined that mindset acts as a fundamental psychological factor strongly associated with multiple outcomes, including educational attainment, cognitive skills, attitudes and subject well-being.

Do mass media influence people’s opinions of other countries? Using BERT, a deep neural network-based natural language processing model, this study analyzes a large corpus of 267,907 China-related articles published by The New York Times since 1970. The output from The New York Times is then compared to a longitudinal data set constructed from 101 cross-sectional surveys of the American public’s views on China, revealing that the reporting of The New York Times on China in one year explains 54% of the variance in American public opinion on China in the next. This result confirms hypothesized links between media and public opinion and helps shed light on how mass media can influence the public opinion of foreign countries.

Chinese citizens rated the necessity of mitigation measures for combating COVID-19 higher than did Americans(4.81 vs. 4.03 on a 1–5 scale). The China–US difference was attributable to 1) Chinese citizens having more confidence in scientists than Americans and 2) Chinese citizens almost invariably accepting the necessity of COVID-19 mitigation measures, regardless of their confidence in scientists.

The authors propose a new methodological framework for studying status exchange in marriage. As shown in recent debates on status- race or status-beauty exchange, the conventional log-linear modeling approach is prone to controversial specifications and alternative inter- pretations. This study develops a simple method—the exchange index (EI)—with cohort- and gender-specific relative status measures, sta- tistical distribution balancing, and nonparametric matching. While allowing for multiple covariate controls, the EI measures the average difference in spouse’s status between intermarriages and matched in- group marriages. To demonstrate the new framework, two analytical examples of status-race and status-age exchange, based on the IPUMS 2000 U.S. Census 5% microdata sample, are used. To verify the new method, replication and simulation studies are also conducted. This approach reduces model dependency, improves flexibility to account for confounders, allows for examination of heterogeneous patterns, speaks to fundamental concepts in status exchange theory, and takes advantage of increasingly available large-scale microdata.


Family in China has experienced drastic changes in the past decades. Yet we have limited knowledge of the trends and patterns of the Chinese family in transition.


This study provides a systematic documentation of the Chinese family in transition by estimating a variety of indicators of marital and fertility behaviors in China, including the singlehood rate, first marriage age, cohabitation rate, divorce rate, and nonmarital childbirth rate.


We analyze data from the 1990, 2000, and 2010 China Censuses, the 2005 1% China Population Inter-Census Surveys, and the 2010‒2016 China Family Panel Studies.


The results indicate trends of delays in first marriage age and increases in premarital cohabitation in China. Despite below-replacement fertility, childlessness remains rare among married Chinese couples. In addition, almost all children are born and raised within marriage, with a virtual absence of nonmarital childbearing in China. Although we observe a slight increase in divorce across cohorts, the divorce rate within 10 years in China was much lower than in other East Asian societies.


Our research suggests both continuity and changes in marital and childbearing behaviors in China. The trajectory of family changes in China has not followed those in Western countries.


This article documents the most recent Chinese family changes and provides national estimates of family behaviors in China.


Do mass media influence people’s opinion of other countries? Using BERT, a deep neural network-based natural language processing model, we analyze a large corpus of 267,907 China-related articles published by The New York Times since 1970. We then compare our output from The New York Times to a longitudinal data set constructed from 101 cross-sectional surveys of the American public’s views on China. We find that the reporting of The New York Times on China in one year explains 54% of the variance in American public opinion on China in the next. Our result confirms hypothesized links between media and public opinion and helps shed light on how mass media can influence public opinion of foreign countries.

An essential feature common to all empirical social research is variability across units of analysis. Individuals differ not only in background characteristics but also in how they respond to a particular treatment, intervention, or stimulation. Moreover, individuals may self-select into treatment on the basis of anticipated treatment effects. To study heterogeneous treatment effects in the presence of self-selection, Heckman and Vytlacil developed a structural approach that builds on the marginal treatment effect (MTE). In this article, we extend the MTE-based approach through a redefinition of MTE. Specifically, we redefine MTE as the expected treatment effect conditional on the propensity score (rather than all observed covariates) as well as a latent variable representing unobserved resistance to treatment. As with the original MTE, the new MTE also can be used as a building block for evaluating standard causal estimands. However, the weights associated with the new MTE are simpler, more intuitive, and easier to compute. Moreover, the new MTE is a bivariate function and thus is easier to visualize than the original MTE. Finally, the redefined MTE immediately reveals treatment-effect heterogeneity among individuals who are at the margin of treatment. As a result, it can be used to evaluate a wide range of policy changes with little analytical twist and design policy interventions that optimize the marginal benefits of treatment. We illustrate the proposed method by estimating heterogeneous economic returns to college with National Longitudinal Study of Youth 1979 data.

China had made dramatic health gains before its economic reform that began in 1978 produced rapid economic growth in the ensuing years. Since the economic reform, China's income inequality has substantially increased, and health gains have stagnated. This article investigates the extent to which China's health stagnation may be attributable to the rise in income inequality in China. By simulating the improvement in life expectancy that could have resulted if, ceteris paribus, income inequality had stayed constant at the lowest level after the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, we find that the sharply increasing income inequality in China has contributed to life loss in China's population, about 0.6 years for men and 0.4 years for women. These findings suggest that redistribution of income from rich to poor may be one of the most important policy levers for improving population health in China.

It has been well documented that East Asian students in primary and secondary education academically outperform their Western counterparts. One prominent explanation points to the role of culture. This study explores the cultural explanation from a comparative perspective. Analyzing data from mainland China, Taiwan, South Korea, the U.S., Germany, and Australia, we examine the variation across social contexts in the importance of family SES to parents’ and children’s educational expectations, paying particular attention to comparison between East-Asian and Western societies. We find that educational expectations are much less dependent on family background in East Asian societies than in the West, in that parents and children in the former all tend to hold high educational expectations, irrespective of family socioeconomic status.

Nearly all past studies on educational inequality have examined the relationship between family and children’s educational achievement in western countries. Very few have examined this question in other social contexts, such as China. This article investigates differences in factors that influence children’s development between China and western countries. Capitalizing on recent national representative data, we extend previous studies by using more recent data and considering different measurements of educational outcomes. Our findings show that structural forces, such as hukou and residence, are more important than family and individual characteristics in China for influencing children’s educational outcomes; and that family non-monetary resources such as expectations and parenting practices are more important than family monetary resources such as income, for children’s educational achievement.

The 1962–67 High/Scope Perry Preschool Program, a well-known experimental early childhood intervention study that provided quality preschool education to disadvantaged children, has been shown to have had positive impacts on early child development and on a variety of adulthood outcomes. However, most previous analyses have only examined average treatment effects across all program participants without exploring possible effect heterogeneity by children's background characteristics. We investigated this question by first using the 1964–65 Current Population Survey data in combination with the Perry data to construct a scale of child socioeconomic status based on the estimated propensity for inclusion in the Perry program, then analyzing effect heterogeneity within the Perry sample by strata of our socioeconomic scale. We found that the treatment effects of enrollment in the Perry preschool on cognitive and non-cognitive skills were much larger and more persistent among the most disadvantaged children than among others in the Perry program. Furthermore, among the most disadvantaged children, the treatment (i.e., preschool enrollment) affects later outcomes through a reinforcement mechanism of skill development (i.e., early cognitive gain leads to a non-cognitive gain, which in turn leads to later cognitive gain) and a sequential improvement of cognitive skills over time. These findings have important implications for the evaluation of policy interventions in early child development using experimental data.


In this article, we investigate the influences of material aspirations on migration in Nepal, positing that material aspirations may have important influences on decisions to migrate and where to locate. We discuss a theoretical model explaining how these aspirations might be key influences in the migration decision. Using detailed continuous migration histories from the 2008–2012 Chitwan Valley Family Study, we estimate logistic and alternative-specific conditional logit models to examine how material aspirations in Nepal influence migration rates and destinations. Our empirical analyses provide strong evidence that material aspirations have large effects on overall rates of migration and affect destination-specific migration rates, particularly for relatively wealthy Western and Asian destinations. We also show an interaction effect between material aspirations and destination-specific expected earnings in influencing people’s migration choices. It is the people with high aspirations who migrate to destinations with high earning potentials.


We offer a propensity score perspective to interpret and analyze the marginal treatment effect (MTE). Specifically, we redefine MTE as the expected treatment effect conditional on the propensity score and a latent variable representing unobserved resistance to treatment. As with the original MTE, the redefined MTE can be used as a building block for constructing standard causal estimands. The weights associated with the new MTE, however, are simpler, more intuitive, and easier to compute. Moreover, the redefined MTE immediately reveals treatment effect heterogeneity among individuals at the margin of treatment, enabling us to evaluate a wide range of policy effects.

近 20 年来,第二次人口转变是用于解释全球范围内家庭领域发生新变化的最主要的 理论框架。文章通过分析人口普查、1%人口抽样调查和中国家庭追踪调查数据,对我国第二次人口 转变的主要指标进行了全面的评估,包括初婚年龄、同居率、离婚率以及生育方面的指标。研究结果 表明,第二次人口转变在我国的发展与西方有着不同的轨迹,不同方面的家庭行为的变化程度差异较 大。结婚与同居这些更为个体化的家庭行为经历了较为剧烈的变化,男性与女性不断推迟进入初婚 的时间,同居也变得越来越普遍。在养育子女方面,婚外生育与已婚不育仍然非常少见。离婚率虽然 有所上升,但整体还维持在较低的水平。文章提出,对我国家庭领域变化的理解应该充分考虑我国独 特的社会、历史与文化背景。

The Chinese Communist Revolution that culminated in the 1949 founding of the People’s Republic of China fundamentally transformed class relations in China. With data from a nationally representative, longitudinal survey between 2010 and 2016, this study documents the long-term impact of the Communist Revolution on the social stratification order in today’s China, more than 6 decades after the revolution. True to its stated ideological missions, the revolution resulted in promoting the social status of children of the peasant, worker, and revolutionary cadre classes and disadvantaging those who were from privileged classes at the time of the revolution. Although there was a tendency toward “reversion” mitigating the revolution’s effects in the third generation toward the grandparents’ generation in social status, the overall impact of reversion was small. The revolution effects were most pronounced for the birth cohorts immediately following the revolution, attenuating for recently born cohorts.

This study examines trends in intergenerational class mobility in China by analyzing six comparable, nationally representative surveys between 1996 and 2012. Defying a simplistic, unidirectional account, the authors report two countervailing trends in social mobility in post- revolution China. On the one hand, the authors find a decline in social fluidity following China’s transition from state socialism to a market economy, as the link between origin and destination in vertical social status has significantly strengthened. On the other hand, horizontal mobility between the agricultural and nonagricultural sectors has in- creased substantially during recent decades. To put these trends in a global context, the authors compare China’s experience with those in 11 advanced industrial countries. The authors find that despite its re- cent decline, social fluidity in China is still high by international stan- dards. Yet, the direction of vertical social mobility trends in China stands in contrast with that in mature capitalist countries, in which the class structure has either stayed stable or become more open over time.

Children whose parents divorce tend to have worse educational outcomes than children whose parents stay married. However, not all children respond identically to their parents divorcing. We focus on how the impact of parental divorce on children’s education varies by how likely or unlikely divorce was for those parents. We find a significant negative effect of parental divorce on educational attainment, particularly college attendance and completion, among children whose parents were unlikely to divorce. Families expecting marital stability, unprepared for disruption, may experience considerable adjustment difficulties when divorce occurs, leading to negative outcomes for children. By contrast, we find no effect of parental divorce among children whose parents were likely to divorce. Children of high-risk marriages, who face many social disadvantages over childhood irrespective of parental marital status, may anticipate or otherwise accommodate to the dissolution of their parents’ marriage. Our results suggest that family disruption does not uniformly disrupt children’s attainment.

It is well known that children’s academic performances are affected by both their family backgrounds and contextual or structural factors such as the urban–rural difference and regional variation. This article evaluates the relative importance of family background versus structural factors in determining children’s academic achievements across three different societies: China, the United States of America, and Germany, analyzing data from five large-scale, high-quality, and nationally representative data sets. The results reveal two main findings: (a) family socioeconomic status exerts much stronger positive effects on children’s academic achievement in the USA and Germany than in China; and (b) structural factors (such as those measured by location and urban/rural residence) play much smaller roles in the USA and Germany than in China.


Using data from the 1991–2009 China Health and Nutrition Surveys, this paper examines the temporal–spatial variation in the education gradient of body weight relative to height among Chinese adults, and how the variation is associated with levels of economic development. We find different variation patterns for men and women. For women, the education gradient in body weight shifted from being positive to being negative over time for China as a whole, as well as across regions with different levels of economic development. In contrast, for men, higher education remained consistently associated with higher body weight over the 18-year period studied in China as a whole, as well as across regions with different levels of economic development.

Compulsory education systems usually specify a cutoff date regulating the precise age for entry into primary school. Existing literature from the USA and Europe has demonstrated that children born just before the cutoff date are disadvantaged in academic performance and has formalized this phenomenon as the “age position effect.” A recent study by Liu and Li (Sociol Stud 6:169–245, 2015) reported similar findings for China. Our study, however, challenges Liu and Li’s conclusion by examining the long-term effects of birth month on socioeconomic attainment and the compliance rate regarding the cutoff date. Using the 2005 1% Mini-census Survey and the 1992 National Sample Survey of the Living Situation of Chinese Children, we found a significant variation in socioeconomic achievement by birth month in adulthood in ways that differ from those reported by Liu and Li. In addition, we found compliance to be affected by both birth month and parental characteristics. In conclusion, our article proposes parental self-selection as an alternative explanation for the cutoff date effect.


Past research on the “motherhood wage penalty” has been based on data from nuclear families, leaving open the possibility that the motherhood wage penalty may be lower or even absent in multigenerational families. In this article, the wage gap between mothers and nonmothers is examined in nuclear and multigenerational families in the context of contemporary China, which has a long tradition of patriarchal families. Using 1993 to 2006 China Health and Nutrition Survey data, the magnitude and variation of motherhood penalty is explored with fixed effects models among 1,058 women. The results show that each additional child lowers hourly wages by about 12%. In addition, the motherhood penalty is largest for women living with their husbands' parents, smaller for women not living with parents, and nil for women living with their own parents.

中国社会学本土化的争论虽然持续已久, 但至今仍未产生共识. 本文试图从议题本土化, 应用本土化和范式本土化三个角度说明社会学本土化是个伪问题. 从议题上来看, 中国社会学的研究议题已经相当地本土化, 而且不必为突出本土化特征而束缚研究. 从应用上来看, 一些应用西方理论或方法的中国研究本土契合性不足, 其原因在于研究者本身缺乏对社会学的认识和对如何做好研究的理解. 若在秉承社会学研究规范性的同时能够将社会学本身的情境性带入其中, 中国社会学必然能够保持其学术的独立性和原创力. 从范式上来看, 学术的贡献和原创性应该由学术同行来评价, 中国的社会学家所发展出的理论和方法应该对这个学科的主流领域具有影响力, 应该有助于整个社会学学科的知识积累, 而不只是对中国社会学有所贡献.


For Chinese families, coresidence with elderly parents is both a form of support and a moderator of financial support. Previous literature on intergenerational support in Chinese societies has studied either coresidence or financial support independently, but not these two forms of support jointly. Using data from the 1999 ‘Study of Family Life in Urban China’ in Shanghai, Wuhan, and Xi’an, we examined whether or not adult children, especially sons, buy out of the obligation to live with their parents by providing greater financial support. To account for the potential selection bias associated with coresidence, we treated coresidence and financial transfer as joint outcomes by using endogenous switching regression models. The results showed that children who core- side with their parents would have provided more financial support had they lived away and children who live away from their parents would have provided more financial support had they coresided. These findings suggest a self-selection mechanism that maximizes children’s interests rather than parents’ interests.

Observed friendship choices are constrained by social structures and thus problematic indicators for underlying personal preferences. In this paper, we report on a study demonstrating the causal effects of preference in friendship choice based on an online field experiment. Specifically, we tested two important forces that govern friendship choices: preference for shared group identity (operationalized as the desire to befriend others sharing the same place-of-origin identity) and preference for high status (operationalized as the desire to befriend others from high-status institutions). Using an online field experiment in one of the largest social network service websites in China, we investigated the causal preference effects of these two forces free from structural constraints. The results of our study confirm the preference effects on friendship choice in both of the two dimensions we tested.

Despite well documented high levels of socioeconomic inequalities, health gradients by socioeconomic status (SES) in contemporary China have been reported to be limited. Using data from the 2010–2012 China Family Panel Studies, we reexamine associations between three sets of SES—human capital, material conditions, and political capital—and self-rated health among Chinese adults 18–70 years old, capitalizing on anchoring vignette data to adjust for reporting heterogeneity. We find strong evidence of substantial variations in reporting behaviors by education, cognition, and family wealth but not by family income or political capital. Failing to correct for reporting heterogeneity can bias the estimates of SES gradients in self-rated health as much as nearly 40 %. After vignette adjustment, we find significantly positive associations of education, family income, wealth, and political capital with self-rated health. Individuals’ cognitive capacity, however, does not predict self-rated health.

Using data from a nationwide household survey—the China Family Panel Studies—we study how social determinants—political and market factors—are associated with wealth and income among urban households in China. Results indicate that both political and market factors contribute significantly to a household’s economic wellbeing, but the political premium is substantially greater in wealth than in income. Further, political capital has a larger effect on the accumulation of housing assets, while market factors are more influential on the accumulation of non-housing assets. We propose explanations for these findings.

We assess life-course changes in how cognitive and noncognitive skills mediate the effect of parental SES on children's academic achievement using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort. Our results show: (1) the direct effect of parental SES declines while the mediating effect of skills increases over time; (2) cognitive and non-cognitive skills differ in their temporal sensitivities to parental origin; and (3) in contrast to the effect of cognitive skills, the mediating effect of non-cognitive skills increases over time because non-cognitive skills are more sensitive to changes in parental SES. Our results offer insights into the dynamic role skill formation play in status attainment.


Since the seminal introduction of the propensity score (PS) by Rosenbaum and Rubin, PS-based methods have been widely used for drawing causal inferences in the behavioral and social sciences. However, the PS approach depends on the ignorability assumption: there are no unobserved confounders once observed covariates are taken into account. For situations where this assumption may be violated, Heckman and his associates have recently developed a novel approach based on marginal treatment effects (MTEs). In this article, we (1) explicate the consequences for PS-based methods when aspects of the ignorability assumption are violated, (2) compare PS-based methods and MTE-based methods by making a close examination of their identification assumptions and estimation performances, (3) apply these two approaches in estimating the economic return to college using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) of 1979 and discuss their discrepancies in results. When there is a sorting gain but no systematic baseline difference between treated and untreated units given observed covariates, PS-based methods can identify the treatment effect of the treated (TT). The MTE approach performs best when there is a valid and strong instrumental variable (IV). In addition, this article introduces the “smoothing-difference PS-based method,” which enables us to uncover heterogeneity across people of different PSs in both counterfactual outcomes and treatment effects.

This paper examines the intersection of developmental idealism with China. It discusses how developmental idealism has been widely disseminated within China and has had enormous effects on public policy and programs, on social institutions, and on the lives of individuals and their families. This dissemination of developmental idealism to China began in the 19th century, when China met with several military defeats that led many in the country to question the place of China in the world. By the beginning of the 20th century, substantial numbers of Chinese had reacted to the country’s defeats by exploring developmental idealism as a route to independence, international respect, and prosperity. Then, with important but brief aberrations, the country began to implement many of the elements of developmental idealism, a movement that became especially important following the assumption of power by the Communist Party of China in 1949. This movement has played a substantial role in politics, in the economy, and in family life. The beliefs and values of developmental idealism have also been directly disseminated to the grassroots in China, where substantial majorities of Chinese citizens have assimilated them. These ideas are both known and endorsed by very large numbers in China today.

Intermarriage plays a key role in stratification systems. Spousal resemblance reinforces social boundaries within and across generations, and the rules of intermarriage govern the ways that social mobility may occur. We examine intermarriage across social origin and education boundaries in the United States using data from the 1968–2013 Panel Study of Income Dynamics. Our evidence points to a pattern of status exchange—that is, persons with high education from modest backgrounds tend to marry those with lower education from more privileged backgrounds. Our study contributes to an active methodological debate by pinpointing the conditions under which the results pivot from evidence against exchange to evidence for exchange and advances theory by showing that the rules of exchange are more consistent with the notion of diminishing marginal utility than the more general theory of compensating differentials.

We advocate an interactive approach to examining the role of culture and SES in explaining Asian Americans' achievement. We use Education Longitudinal Study (ELS) 2002 baseline data to test our proposition that the cultural orientation of Asian American families is different from that of white American families in ways that mediate the effects of family SES on children's academic achievement. The results support our hypothesis, indicating that: (1) SES's positive effects on achievement are stronger among white students than among Asian-Americans; (2) the association between a family's SES and behaviors and attitudes is weaker among Asian-Americans than among Whites; (3) a fraction of the Asian-White achievement gap can be accounted for by ethnic differences in behaviors and attitudes, particularly ethnic differences in family SES's effects on behaviors and attitudes. We find that Asian Americans’ behaviors and attitudes are less influenced by family SES than those of Whites are and that this difference helps generate Asians’ premium in achievement. This is especially evident at lower levels of family SES.

Drawing on past research, including my own, I set forth the following propositions: (1) inequality in China has been generated and maintained by structural collective mechanisms, such as regions and work units; (2) traditional Chinese political ideology has promoted merit-based inequality, with merit being perceived as functional in improving the collective welfare for ordinary people; and (3) many Chinese people today regard inequality as an inevitable consequence of economic development. Thus, it seems unlikely that social inequality alone would lead to political and social unrest in today’s China.

Social context affects people’s life satisfaction because it provides a natural reference for evaluating their own socioeconomic standing. Given their reference role, social contexts operationalized by space versus time may have very different implications. Our hypothesis is that spatial variation in economic development has little impact on life satisfaction as individuals living in different locales are unlikely to experience this vari- ation personally, but that short-term temporal changes in economic development, on the other hand, do have an impact, as individuals in a given locale experience these changes directly. These two very different implications of spatial versus temporal social contexts are tested with an analysis of repeated survey data in 60 counties of China from 2005 to 2010. The results show that life satisfaction does not vary much with regional differences in economic development but responds positively to the local level of economic devel- opment over time. That is, the contextual effects of economic development vary greatly depending on how social context is operationalized. Temporal context matters far more than regional context where individuals’ life satisfaction is concerned.