In Science magazine, Stanford researchers Megan Palmer and David Relman are among co-authors recommending a reset of U.S. and global policy to address the gaps and challenges of current guidance.
After nearly two decades of rising wages for those in the unskilled sectors of China's economy, in the mid-2010s employment and wages in China began to experience new polarizing trends. Using data from the National Bureau of Statistics of China, this paper examines trends in multiple sectors and subeconomies of China, revealing the substantial rise of employment in informal, low-skilled services as well as the steady decline of wage growth in the informal subeconomy. At the same time, we find that although employment growth in the formal subeconomy is relatively moderate, wage growth in high-skilled services is steadily rising. These two trends pose a challenge for China, presenting a new and uncertain period of economic change.
The WHO recommends daily use of micronutrient powder for infants and toddlers at risk of micronutrient deficiencies in low-and-middle-income countries. China has established a micronutrient powder distribution program in many rural townships and villages, yet adherence to micronutrient powder remains suboptimal; a little is known about the behavioral inputs that may influence adherence. This study examines direct and indirect behavioral inputs in micronutrient powder adherence among caregivers in rural western China following the Integrated Behavioral Model (IBM) framework.
Cross-sectional data were collected from April to May 2019 among 958 caregivers of children aged 6 to 24 months in six counties. Data were collected on micronutrient powder adherence behavior, direct behavioral inputs (knowledge and skills, intention, salience, environmental constraints, and habits), and indirect behavioral inputs (attitudes, perceived social norms, and personal agency). Structural equation modeling (SEM) adjusted for sociodemographic covariates was used to evaluate the IBM framework.
Mean micronutrient powder adherence in the previous seven days was 53.02%, and only 22.86% of caregivers consistently fed micronutrient powder from the start of micronutrient powder distribution at six months of age. The SEM model revealed small- to medium-sized effects of salience (β = 0.440, P < 0.001), intention (β = 0.374, P < 0.001), knowledge and skills (β = 0.214, P < 0.001), personal agency (st. effect = 0.172, P < 0.001), environmental constraints (β=-0.142, P < 0.001), and caregiver generation (β = 0.119, P < 0.05) on micronutrient powder adherence. Overall, 54.7% of the variance in micronutrient powder adherence was explained by the IBM framework. Salience had the largest impact on micronutrient powder adherence (Cohen’s f 2 = 0.227). Compared to parent caregivers, grandparents had a higher degree of micronutrient powder adherence on average (P < 0.001), and behavioral inputs were consistent among both parent and grandparent caregivers.
There is a need to improve micronutrient powder adherence among rural caregivers. The IBM framework showed a high degree of explanatory power in predicting micronutrient powder adherence behavior. The findings suggest that increased reminders from doctors regarding micronutrient powder and coaching to improve personal agency in micronutrient powder feeding may increase adherence.
Despite major advancements in China’s K-12 educational outcomes over the past several decades, large regional inequities in academic achievement still exist, a proximal cause of which are gaps in teaching quality. Although conventional approaches to improving teaching quality for disadvantaged populations have overall been unsuccessful in China (i.e., student relocation to better-resourced urban schools, attracting high-quality teachers to low-resource rural schools, and rural teacher training), technology-assisted instruction may play a role in bridging these gaps. This paper explores why conventional approaches to improving teaching have not been effective in rural China and then describes the potential applications of technology-assisted instruction based on the small but growing body of empirical literature evaluating such interventions in other low- and middle-income countries. The paper concludes that while other (non-tech) interventions have thus far been ineffective at raising teaching quality, China may be uniquely positioned to harness technology-assisted instruction due to a favorable ecosystem for the scaling of EdTech in rural areas, though much more experimental research is necessary to assess which approaches and technologies are most cost-effective and how to best scale them.
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This paper estimates the labor market impacts of parenthood in China. We find that becoming a mother has negative impacts on women's labor outcomes. But the impacts appear to recover sooner than what has been found in other countries. A decomposition exercise suggests that parenthood plays a limited role in explaining the large gender inequality in China's labor market. We document a form of intergenerational arrangement that is prevalent among Chinese families: Upon the arrival of a child, grandmothers substantially reduce market labor supply and provide much of the childcare. Grandparents’ help with childcare likely plays an important role in alleviating the motherhood effect. Suggestive evidence indicates that in return, grandparents who help with childcare receive more intra-family transfers and report higher subjective wellbeing. We further show that the motherhood effect, though relatively small, has increased substantially over the past decades. The rising gender gap in the labor market, the declining state sector that historically provides more flexible accommodations for working mothers, and the abolishment of the one-child policy all suggest a rising burden of motherhood on labor market outcomes.
Family-level factors that characterize the home environment are critical inputs to early language and cognitive development, and potential mechanisms for improving developmental outcomes in vulnerable populations. Many studies conducted in high-income and Western settings highlight stimulating parenting, the home language environment, and parental self-efficacy as possible mechanisms of early development, though less is known about how these family-level factors impact child development in low- or middle-income settings. Even less is known about these family-level factors and early childhood development in rural China, where rates of cognitive and language delay in children aged 0–3 years are as high as 45% and 46%, respectively. Using data collected from 77 rural households with children aged 18–24 months in Southwestern China, this study examines the associations between stimulating parenting, the home language environment, and parental self-efficacy, and early cognitive and language development. The results indicate that stimulating parenting was significantly associated with cognitive, language, and overall development; the home language environment was only significantly associated with language development; and parental self-efficacy was not significantly associated with any developmental outcomes. The implications of such findings reveal mechanisms for supporting healthy child development in rural China.
As digital devices like computers become more widely available in developing countries, there is a growing need to understand how the time that adolescents spend using these devices for recreational purposes such as playing video games is linked with their mental health outcomes. We measured the amount of time that adolescents in rural China spent playing video games and the association of video game time with their mental health. We collected data from primary and junior high schools in a poor, rural province in northwest China (n = 1603 students) and used the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scales (DASS-21) to measure mental health symptoms. The results indicated that the average video game time was about 0.69 h per week. There was a significant association between adolescent video game time and poorer mental health. Each additional hour of playing video games also increased the chance of having moderate or above symptoms. Moreover, boys and non-left-behind children had worse mental health if they played more video games. Our study contributes to literature on the links between recreational screen time and mental health, and it sheds light on an issue addressed by recent government legislation to limit the video game time of minors in China.
Key policy takeaways from Michael McFaul on Russia after Putin, Francis Fukuyama on democracy in America, Daphne Keller on the global impact of the European Union's new digital policy, Marietje Schaake on Elon Musk's first days at Twitter, XXXXXX
Over the past two decades, the literature has shown a clear gradient between child health and wealth. The same health–wealth gradient is also observed among children in China, with a large gap in health between rural and urban children. However, there are still unanswered questions about the main causes of China’s rural–urban child health inequality. This paper aims to review the major factors that have led to the relatively poor levels of health among China’s rural children. In addition to the direct income effect on children’s health, children in rural areas face disadvantages compared with their urban counterparts from the beginning of life: Prenatal care and infant health outcomes are worse in rural areas; rural caregivers have poor health outcomes and lack knowledge and support to provide adequate nurturing care to young children; there are large disparities in access to quality health care between rural and urban areas; and rural families are more likely to lack access to clean water and sanitation. In order to inform policies that improve health outcomes for the poor, there is a critical need for research that identifies the causal drivers of health outcomes among children. Strengthening the pediatric training and workforce in rural areas is essential to delivering quality health care for rural children. Other potential interventions include addressing the health needs of mothers and grandparent caregivers, improving parenting knowledge and nurturing care, improving access to clean water and sanitation for remote families, and most importantly, targeting poverty itself.
The self-esteem of students may be significantly associated with their academic performance. However, past research in developing contexts on this issue is limited, particularly among early adolescents. Using a sample of 3101 students from rural primary and junior high schools in China, this study measured their self-esteem by the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES) and explored its association with academic performance. Our findings indicate that students in rural China had both significantly lower self-esteem and a higher prevalence of low self-esteem when compared to past studies of similarly aged students both from urban China and internationally. Furthermore, there was a strong positive correlation between a student’s self-esteem and academic performance. A one-SD increase in RSES score (indicating better self-esteem) was associated with an increase of 0.12 SD in standardized math scores (p < 0.001), and students with low self-esteem (RSES score < 25) scored lower on math tests by 0.14 SD (p < 0.001), which were robust and consistent when employing the propensity score matching method. Our study expands the growing body of empirical evidence on the link between self-esteem and academic performance among rural youth in developing countries and emphasizes the need to improve their self-esteem with the aim of helping them achieve academically.
As part of its effort to balance economic development with environmental objectives, China has established a new national park system, with the first five locations formally established in 2021. However, as the new parks all host or are proximate to human populations, aligning the socioeconomic needs and aspirations of local communities with conservation aims is critical for the long-term success of the parks. In this narrative review, the authors identify the ecological priorities and socioeconomic stakeholders of each of the five national parks; explore the tensions and synergies between these priorities and stakeholders; and synthesize the policy recommendations most frequently cited in the literature. A total of 119 studies were reviewed. Aligning traditional livelihoods with conservation, limiting road construction, promoting education and environmental awareness, and supporting the development of a sustainable tourism industry are identified as important steps to balance conservation with economic development in the new national parks.
One out of every three children under age 5 in developing countries lives in conditions that impede human capital development. In this study, we survey the literature on parenting training programs implemented before age 5, with the aim to increase parental investment in human capital accumulation in developing countries. Our review focuses on the implementation and effectiveness of parenting training programs (i.e., training in child psychosocial stimulation and/or training about nutrition). We emphasize the mechanisms that drive treatment-induced change in human capital outcomes and identify the demand- and supply-side behaviors that affect efficacy and effectiveness. Although the literature includes evidence on program features that are associated with successful interventions, further evidence on the dynamics of human capital formation, documentation of medium- to long-term persistence of treatment impacts, and research on the implementation and evaluation of programs at scale are needed to delineate a scalable and inclusive program that provides long-term treatment impacts.
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