The prevalence of private tutoring is often noted in the literature on education in East Asia. Empirical evidence concerning the causes and conse- quences of private tutoring, however, is sparse, especially for China. In this article, we draw upon data from the 2010 China Family Panel Studies to explore whether children’s tutoring experiences are influenced by family background and whether private tutoring benefits children’s educational performance. Our empirical analyses show that higher parental education, higher family income, and fewer siblings are all associated with a higher likelihood of private tutoring and higher levels of spending on it. Furthermore, private tutoring and spending on tutoring are predictive of higher verbal and math performances, although the difference in math performance between children who received private tutoring and those who did not is statistically insignificant after controlling for family background.


The China Family Panel Studies (CFPS) is an on-going, nearly nationwide, comprehensive, longitudinal social survey that is intended to serve research needs on a large variety of social phenomena in contemporary China. In this article, we describe the sampling design of the CFPS sample for its 2010 baseline survey, and methods for constructing weights to adjust for sampling design and survey non-responses. Specifically, the CFPS used a multi-stage probability strategy to reduce operation costs and implicit stratification to increase efficiency. Respondents were oversampled in five provinces or administrative equivalents for regional comparisons. We provide operation details for both sampling and weights construction.

Using population intercensus and national survey data, we examine marriage timing in urban China spanning the past six decades. Descriptive analysis from the intercensus shows that marriage patterns have changed in China. Marriage age is delayed for both men and women, and prevalence of nonmarriage became as high as one-quarter for men in recent birth cohorts with very low levels of education. Capitalizing on individual-level survey data, we further explore the effects of demographic and socioeconomic determinants of entry into marriage in urban China over time. Our study yields three significant findings. First, the influence of economic prospects on marriage entry has significantly increased during the economic reform era for men. Second, the positive effect of working in the state-owned sector has substantially weakened. Third, educational attainment now has a negative effect on marriage timing for women. Taken together, these results suggest that the traditional hypergamy norm has persisted in China as an additional factor in the influences of economic resources on marriage formation.

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 variation 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 development 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.

China’s rural-to-urban migration has affected 12.6 million school-age rural children who have migrated with their parents and another 22 million who have been left behind by their migrant parents. Not enough is known, either theoretically or empirically, about the causal impact of migration on the well-being of this large number of Chinese children affected by migration. Propensity score matching methods are applied to estimate the effects of migration in children 10–15 years old from a 2010 national survey (N = 2,417). Children’s migration has significant positive effects on their objective well-being but no negative effects on their subjective well-being. There is little difference between the left-behind and non-migrant children across multiple life domains. The Rosenbaum bounds tests indicate that the causal effects of child migration are sensitive to hidden bias for certain outcomes, but not for others.

With new nationwide longitudinal survey data now available from the China Family Panel Studies (CFPS), we study the level, distribution, and composition of household wealth in contemporary China. We found that the wealth Gini coefficient of China was 0.73 in 2012. The richest 1 percent owned more than one-third of the total national household wealth, while the poorest 25 percent owned less than 2 percent. Housing assets, which accounted for over 70 percent, were the largest component of household wealth. Finally, the urban-rural divide and regional disparities played important roles in household wealth distribution, and institutional factors significantly affected household wealth holdings, wealth growth rate, and wealth mobility.

We are living through an extraordinarily interesting period, historically. The world has largely been peaceful since the end of the Second World War. The Cold War ended in the unambiguous victory of the West. Economic development and industrialization have been happening in many parts of the world, beyond Europe and Northern America. The world has become increasingly globalized, connected by internet technology, inexpensive air travelling networks, and English as the de facto international language. This is a fortunate time to be a sociologist. While technological advances and economic prosperity are sure to continue predictably, social issues studied by sociologists are becoming more prominent, requiring serious research, both for policy making and for public discourse.

Situated in China’s market transition, this study examines the relationship between economic sector and a worker’s happiness in post-reform urban China. Using datasets from the Chinese General Social Surveys 2003, 2006 and 2008, we find that workers in the state sector enjoy a subjective premium in well-being – reporting significantly higher levels of happiness than their counterparts in the private sector. We also find that during a period when a large wave of workers moved from the state sector to the private sector, those remaining in the state sector reported being significantly happier than did former state sector workers who had moved, whether the move was voluntary or involuntary. We attribute the higher level of reported happiness in the state sector than in the private sector to the disparity by sector in the provision of social welfare benefits. Those who made voluntary state-to-private moves experienced a trade-off in enjoying higher payoffs while losing job security, whereas involuntary mobiles experienced downward mobility and suffered a long-term psychological penalty.

This paper addresses the debate over the significance of family’s monetary versus non-monetary resources for children’s achievement and development, within the context ofcontemporary China. We use data from the 2010 baseline survey of the China Family PanelStudy to examine the relevance of several proposed determinants in Chinese children’s cog-nitive achievement. Our findings suggest that: (1) family income is significantly associatedwith children’s achievement, but family’s assets and direct measures of monetary resourcesare found to have little effect; (2) non-monetary resources, particularly parenting, are ofgreat importance to children’s achievement; (3) parenting practices do not vary greatly byfamily’s economic resources.

We are living through an extraordinarily interesting period, historically. The world has largely been peaceful since the end of the Second World War. The Cold War ended in the unambiguous victory of the West. Economic development and industrialization have been happening in many parts of the world, beyond Europe and Northern America. The world has become increasingly globalized, connected by internet technology, inexpensive air travelling networks, and English as the de facto international language. This is a fortunate time to be a sociologist. While technological advances and economic prosperity are sure to continue predictably, social issues studied by sociologists are becoming more prominent, requiring serious research, both for policy making and for public discourse. Let me mention a few: social inequality, education, health, culture, family formation and dissolution, fertility and mortality, social cohesion and collective efficacy, public trust, social organizations and institutions, neighborhoods, social networks, racial and ethnic conflicts, gender relationships, domestic and international migration, feelings of happiness and alienation, crimes and deviant behaviors, and intergenerational relationships. I mention these topics not only because they figure prominently in past sociological research, but also because they are unlikely to have solutions that are solely, or even mainly, technological or economic in nature. Take divorce as an example. We know that divorce rates have risen in many countries since the end of the Second World War, coinciding with a period of rapid economic development and technological advances, as well as the large improvement of women’s social status relative to men, especially in education. In short, divorce is a social phenomenon, and understanding of its causes and consequences requires sociological research. The same can be said of other social phenomena. This is a particularly exciting time to conduct sociological research on China. After a ‘‘century of humiliation’’ between the Opium War that began in 1840 and the end of the Second World War in 1945, the China unified by the Communist Party in 1949 stayed poor, undeveloped, and isolated from the rest of the world until 1978, when a new era of the economic reform began. Since 1978, China has been undergoing a social transformation whose scope, rapidity, and significance in impact are unprecedented in human history. I hold the view that China’s ongoing social transformation since its economic reform is a watershed event in long-term world history, comparable in significance to the Renaissance that began in 14th-century Italy, the Protestant Reformation in 16th-century Germany, and the Industrial Revolution in 18th-century Britain.

Scholars have noticed that centrally-appointed officials in imperial China were not only beholden to their superiors but also acted as brokers of local interests.We characterize such a structural position as ‘dual accountability’. Although accountability to superiors is readily understandable within the Weberian framework of bureaucratic hierarchy, the reasons behind local responsiveness bear explanation. This paper attempts to explain such responsiveness by investigating the larger ideological, structural, and institutional contexts of the Han dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE). We explore two existing explanations
– practical necessity and ‘Confucian’ or classical paternalism – and add a new explanation of our own: the emphasis on virtuous reputations in the system of bureaucratic recruitment and promotion. Our argument is supported by empirical evidence from a range of sources, including administrative records and inscriptions on ancient stelae.
More generally, we question Weber’s hypothesis that the Chinese imperial system of administration fit the ideal type of traditional bureaucracy, and we examine the rational bases underlying an ‘inefficient’ system that was in place for two millennia.


We document a rapid increase in income inequality in China’s recent past, capitalizing on newly available survey data collected by several Chinese university survey organizations. By now, China’s income inequality not only surpasses that of the United States by a large margin but also ranks among the highest in the world, especially in comparison with countries with comparable or higher standards of living. We argue that China’s current high income inequality is significantly driven by structural factors attributable to the Chinese political system, the main structural determinants being the rural-urban divide and the regional variation in economic well-being.

New data reveal that in the past three decades, China has become a major contributor to science and technology. Four factors favor China’s continuing rise in science: a large population and human capital base, a labor market favoring academic meritocracy, a large diaspora of Chinese-origin scientists, and a centralized government willing to invest in science. These factors may serve as an example to other nations aspiring to advance their standing in science. However, China’s science also faces potential difficulties due to political interference and scientific fraud.

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.

Knowledge of poverty prevalence is essential for any society concerned with improving public welfare and reducing poverty. In this paper, we estimate and compare poverty incidence rates in China using four nationally representative surveys: the China Family Panel Studies (CFPS) of 2010, the Chinese General Social Survey (CGSS) of 2010, the China Household Finance Survey (CHFS) of 2011, and the Chinese Household Income Project (CHIP) of 2007. Using both international and official domestic poverty standards, we show that poverty rates at the national, rural, and urban levels based on the CFPS, CGSS, and the CHFS are all much higher than the official estimates and those based on the CHIP. This study highlights the importance of using independent datasets to verify official statistics of public and policy concern in contemporary China.

This study investigates how reporting heterogeneity may bias socioeconomic and demographic disparities in self-rated health, a widely used health indicator, and how such bias can be adjusted by anchoring vignettes among Chinese adults. Drawing data from the 2012 wave of the China Family Panel Studies, we find strong evidence of systematically different cut-points applied by people of varying groups to rate their overall health status. In many cases, such cut-point shifts are not parallel in that the effect of certain group characteristic on the shift is stronger at certain level than another. We find that the resulting bias of measuring group differentials in self-rated health can be too substantial to be ignored. We further demonstrate that anchoring vignettes prove to be an effective survey instrument and statistical tool in obtaining bias-adjusted estimates of health disparities. We also find it sufficient to administer vignettes to only a small subsample (20-30% of the full sample) in order to adjust reporting heterogeneity in the full sample. Using single vignette can be as effective as using more in terms of anchoring, but the results are sensitive to the choice of vignette design. Our findings suggest that future research using selfrated health should guard against reporting heterogeneity and employ adjustment techniques such as anchoring vignettes whenever appropriate.

The China Family Panel Studies (CFPS ), launched by Peking University, is a nearly nationwide, comprehensive, longitudinal social survey that is intended to serve research needs on a large variety of social phenomena in contemporary China. This article describes the background and characteristics of the CFPS, which was designed with the help of methods learned from the most influential survey projects in the world and their experiences. Extensive information is collected through computer-assisted person-to-person interviews of all family members. The questionnaires not only cover a wide range of topics but also consist of intergraded modules for rural and urban interviews, gathering information on family structure and family members, migrant mobility, event history (e.g., history of marriage, education, and employment), cognitive ability, and child development. The CFPS promises to provide the academic community with the most comprehensive and highest-quality survey data on contemporary China.


The localistic enclave is a special kind of enclave in urban China, which is characterised by a high concentration of rural migrants from the same place of origin. Prior research has documented that rural migrants work in these localistic enclaves, but the significance of participation in them for labour market outcomes among migrant workers has yet to be determined. In this article, it is argued that localistic economic enclaves may improve the labour force outcomes of rural-to-urban migrants. Results are reported from a study of the social determinants and consequences of working in localistic enclaves, based on data from a 2010 survey of migrant workers in the Pearl River and the Yangzi River deltas. The results provide limited support for the hypothesis: localistic enclaves enable migrant workers to earn higher earnings overall, but the earnings returns to human capital in an enclave are limited.


This article is motivated by the idea that development and developmental hierarchies have been constructed and embraced for centuries by scholars and policy makers and have been disseminated among ordinary people. Recent research shows that most people have constructions of development hierarchies that are similar across countries. In this article, we extend this research by examining how basic social factors influence ordinary people’s beliefs about development and developmental hierarchies in six countries: Argentina, China, Egypt, Iran, Nepal, and the United States. Results show that the understanding and perception of developmental hierarchies vary by gender and education. These results are important because they show
how distinct groups of people have differential access to information or ideas.

Social contexts exert structural effects on individuals’ social relationships, including interracial friendships. In this study, we posit that, net of group composition, total context size has a distinct effect on interracial friendship. Under the assumptions of (i) maximization of preference in choosing a friend, (ii) multidimensionality of preference, and (iii) preference for same-race friends, we conducted analyses using microsimulation that yielded three main findings. First, increased context size decreases the likelihood of forming an interracial friendship. Second, the size effect increases with the number of preference dimensions. Third, the size effect is diluted by noise, i.e., the random component affecting friendship formation. Analysis of actual friendship data among 4,745 American high school students yielded results consistent with the main conclusion that increased context size promotes racial segregation and discourages interracial friendship.


We investigate the dynamic relationship between residential choices of individuals and resulting long-term aggregate segregation patterns, allowing for feedback effects of macrolevel neighborhood conditions on residential choices.We reinterpret past survey data on whites’ attitudes about desired neighborhoods as revealing large heterogeneity in whites’ tolerance of black neighbors. Through agent-based modeling, we improve on a previous model of residential racial segregation by introducing individual-level heterogeneity in racial tolerance. Our model predicts, in the long run, a lower level of residential racial segregation than would be true with homogeneous racial tolerance. Further analysis shows that whites’ tolerance of black neighbors is closely associated with their overall racial attitudes toward blacks.