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Browse FSI scholarship on geopolitics, global health, energy, cybersecurity and more.

Featured Publications

Everything Counts: Building a Control Regime for Nonstrategic Nuclear Warheads in Europe

Building a Control Regime for Nonstrategic Nuclear Warheads in Europe

A new report led by Rose Gottemoeller on non-strategic nuclear warhead policies in Europe, particulary in light of Russia's changing status in the global nuclear community.
3D mockup cover of APARC's volume 'South Korea's Democracy in Crisis'

South Korea’s Democracy in Crisis

A close look at what is driving illiberalism and democratic delcine in today’s Korea, including political polarization, politicization of institutions, societal inequality, education, and social media.
System Error book cover and authors

System Error: Where Big Tech Went Wrong and How We Can Reboot

A forward-thinking manifesto which reveals how big tech’s obsession with optimization and efficiency has sacrificed fundamental human values.

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Hao Xue
Journal Articles

Off the COVID-19 Epicentre: The Impact of Quarantine Controls on Employment, Education and Health in China's Rural Communitites

Huan Wang, Sarah-Eve Dill, Huan Zhou, Yue Ma, Hao Xue, Prashant Loyalka, Sean Sylvia, Matthew Boswell, Jason Lin, Scott Rozelle
The China Quarterly, 2022 March 9, 2022

This study documents the COVID-19 disease-control measures enacted in rural China and examines the economic and social impacts of these measures. We conducted two rounds of surveys with 726 randomly selected village informants across seven provinces. Strict disease-control measures have been universally enforced and appear to have been successful in limiting disease transmission in rural communities. The infection rate in our sample was 0.001 per cent, a rate that is near the national average outside of Hubei province. None of the villages reported any COVID-19-related deaths. For a full month during the quarantine, the rate of employment of rural workers was essentially zero. Even after the quarantine measures were lifted, nearly 70 per cent of the villagers still were unable to work owing to workplace closures. Although action has been taken to mitigate the potential negative effects, these disease-control measures might have accelerated the inequality between rural and urban households in China.

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Journal Articles

Early Childhood Development and Parental Training Interventions in Rural China: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Dorien Emmers, Qi Jiang, Hao Xue, Yue Zhang, Yunting Zhang, Yingxue Zhao, Bin Liu, Sarah-Eve Dill, Yiwei Qian, Nele Warrinnier, Hannah Johnstone, Jianhua Cai, Xiaoli Wang, Lei Wang, Renfu Luo, Guirong Li, Jiajia Xu, Ming Liu, Yaqing Huang, Wenjie Shan, Zhihui Li, Yu Zhang, Sean Sylvia, Yue Ma, Alexis Medina, Scott Rozelle
BMJ Global Health, 2021 August 20, 2021

Introduction: Inadequate care during early childhood can lead to long-term deficits in skills. Parenting programmes that encourage investment in young children are a promising tool for improving early development outcomes and long-term opportunities in low-income and middle-income regions, such as rural China.

Methods: We conducted a systematic review and a meta-analysis to investigate the prevalence of early developmental delays and stimulating parenting practices as well as the effect of parental training programmes on child development outcomes in rural China. We obtained data in English from EconPapers, PubMed, PsycARTICLES, Cochrane Library, Web of Science and Scopus (Elsevier) and in Chinese from China National Knowledge Infrastructure, Wanfang Data and VIP Information. We conducted frequentist meta-analyses of aggregate data and estimated random-effects meta-regressions. Certainty of evidence was rated according to the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation approach.

Results: We identified 19 observational studies on the prevalence of developmental delays and stimulating parenting practices for children under 5 years of age (n=19 762) and ten studies on the impact of parental training programmes on early child development (n=13 766). Children’s risk of cognitive, language and social-emotional delays in the rural study sites (covering 14 provinces mostly in Central and Western China) was 45%, 46%, and 36%, respectively. Parental training programmes had a positive impact on child cognition, language and social-emotional development.

Conclusion: There is evidence to suggest that early developmental delay and the absence of stimulating parenting practices (ie, reading, storytelling and singing with children) may be prevalent across rural, low-income and middle-income regions in Central and Western China. Results support the effectiveness of parental training programmes to improve early development by encouraging parental engagement.

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Journal Articles

Infant Cognitive Development and Stimulating Parenting Practices in Rural China

Hannah Johnstone, Yi Yang, Hao Xue, Scott Rozelle
Environmental Research and Public Health, 2021 May 15, 2021

This study examines the prevalence of cognitive delay among infants and toddlers in rural China and its relationship with one of the potential sources of the observed delay: low levels of stimulating parenting practices (SPPs). Data were compiled from five distinct studies, resulting in a pooled sample of 4436 caregivers of 6–29-month-old infants. The sampling sites span five provinces in rural China. According to the data, on average, rates of delay are high—51 percent. The low rates of SPPs among our sample demonstrate that this may be one source of the high prevalence of delays. The results of the multivariate regression analysis reveal that reading books and singing songs are each significantly associated with an increase in infant cognitive score by 1.62 points (p = 0.003) and 2.00 points (p < 0.001), respectively. Telling stories to infants, however, is not significantly associated with infant cognitive scores. Our findings indicate that caregivers with different characteristics engage in various levels of stimulating practices and have infants with different rates of delay. Specifically, infants of better-educated mothers who have greater household assets are in families in which the caregivers provide more SPPs and have infants who score higher on the study’s cognitive abilities scales.

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Journal Articles

Health, Economic, and Social Implications of COVID-19 for China's Rural Population

Huan Wang, Sarah-Eve Dill, Huan Zhou, Yue Ma, Hao Xue, Sean Sylvia, Kumi Smith, Matthew Boswell, Alexis Medina, Prashant Loyalka, Cody Abbey, Dimitris Friesen, Nathan Rose, Yian Guo, Scott Rozelle
Agricultural Economics, 2021 May 11, 2021

This study examines the effects of local and nationwide COVID‐19 disease control measures on the health and economy of China's rural population. We conducted phone surveys with 726 randomly selected village informants across seven rural Chinese provinces in February 2020. Four villages (0.55%) reported infections, and none reported deaths. Disease control measures had been universally implemented in all sample villages. About 74% of informants reported that villagers with wage‐earning jobs outside the village had stopped working due to workplace closures. A higher percentage of rural individuals could not work due to transportation, housing, and other constraints. Local governments had taken measures to reduce the impact of COVID‐19. Although schools in all surveyed villages were closed, 71% of village informants reported that students were attending classes online. Overall, measures to control COVID‐19 appear to have been successful in limiting disease transmission in rural communities outside the main epidemic area. Rural Chinese citizens, however, have experienced significant economic consequences from the disease control measures.

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Journal Articles

Tracking the Effects of COVID-19 in Rural China Over Time

Huan Wang, Markus Zhang, Robin Li, Oliver Zhong, Hannah Johnstone, Huan Zhou, Hao Xue, Sean Sylvia, Matthew Boswell, Prashant Loyalka, Scott Rozelle
International Journal for Equity in Health, 2021 January 14, 2021
Background: China issued strict nationwide guidelines to combat the COVID-19 outbreak in January 2020 and gradually loosened the restrictions on movement in early March. Little is known about how these disease control measures affected the 600 million people who live in rural China. The goal of this paper is to document the quarantine measures implemented in rural China outside the epicenter of Hubei Province and to assess the socioeconomic effect of the measures on rural communities over time. Methods: We conducted three rounds of interviews with informants from 726 villages in seven provinces, accounting for over 25% of China’s overall rural population. The survey collected data on rural quarantine implementation; COVID-19 infections and deaths in the survey villages; and effects of the quarantine on employment, income, education, health care, and government policies to address any negative impacts. The empirical findings of the work established that strict quarantine measures were implemented in rural villages throughout China in February. Results: There was little spread of COVID-19 in rural communities: an infection rate of 0.001% and zero deaths reported in our sample. However, there were negative social and economic outcomes, including high rates of unemployment, falling household income, rising prices, and disrupted student learning. Health care was generally accessible, but many delayed their non-COVID-19 health care due to the quarantine measures. Only 20% of villagers received any form of local government aid, and only 11% of villages received financial subsidies. There were no reports of national government aid programs that targeted rural villagers in the sample areas. Conclusions: By examining the economic and social effects of the COVID-19 restrictions in rural communities, this study will help to guide other middle- and low-income countries in their containment and restorative processes. Without consideration for economically vulnerable populations, economic hardships and poverty will likely continue to have a negative impact on the most susceptible communities.
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Working Papers

Off the Epicenter: COVID-19 Quarantine Controls and Employment, Education, and Health Impacts in Rural Communities

Huan Wang, Sarah-Eve Dill, Huan Zhou, Yue Ma, Hao Xue, Prashant Loyalka, Sean Sylvia, Matthew Boswell, Jason Lin, Scott Rozelle
2020 October 19, 2020

In late January 2020, China’s government initiated its first aggressive measures to combat COVID-19 by forbidding individuals from leaving their homes, radically limiting public transportation, cancelling or postponing large public events, and closing schools across the country. The rollout of these measures coincided with China’s Lunar New Year holiday, during which more than 280 million people had returned from their places of work to their home villages in rural areas. The disease control policies remained in place until late February and early March, when they were gradually loosened to

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Working Papers

Education and EdTech during COVID-19: Evidence from a Large-Scale Survey during School Closures in China

Guirong Li, Xinwu Zhang, Delei Liu, Hao Xue, Derek Hu, Oliver Lee, Chris Rilling, Yue Ma, Cody Abbey, Robert Fairlie, Prashant Loyalka, Scott Rozelle
2020 August 10, 2020
In response to the COVID-19 epidemic, many education systems have relied on distance learning and educational technologies to an unprecedented degree. However, rigorous empirical research on the impacts on learning under these conditions is still scarce. We present the first large-scale, quantitative evidence detailing how school closures affected education in China. The data set includes households and teachers of 4,360 rural and urban primary school students. We find that although the majority of students engaged in distance education, many households encountered difficulties including barriers to learning (such as access to appropriate digital devices and study spaces), curricular delays, and costs to parents equivalent to about two months of income. We also find significant disparities across rural and urban households.
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Journal Articles

Using Standardised Patients to Assess the Quality of Medical Records: An Application and Evidence from Rural China

Yuju Wu, Huan Zhou, Yaojiang Shi, Hao Xue, Chengchao Zhou, Hongmei Yi, Alexis Medina, Jason Li, Sean Sylvia
BMJ, 2019 November 27, 2019
Background: Medical records play a fundamental role in healthcare delivery, quality assessment and improvement. However, there is little objective evidence on the quality of medical records in low and middle-income countries. Objective: To provide an unbiased assessment of the quality of medical records for outpatient visits to rural facilities in China. Methods: A sample of 207 township health facilities across three provinces of China were enrolled. Unannounced standardised patients (SPs) presented to providers following standardised scripts. Three weeks later, investigators returned to collect medical records from each facility. Audio recordings of clinical interactions were then used to evaluate completeness and accuracy of available medical records. Results: Medical records were located for 210 out of 620 SP visits (33.8%). Of those located, more than 80% contained basic patient information and drug treatment when mentioned in visits, but only 57.6% recorded diagnoses. The most incompletely recorded category of information was patient symptoms (74.3% unrecorded), followed by non-drug treatments (65.2% unrecorded). Most of the recorded information was accurate, but accuracy fell below 80% for some items. The keeping of any medical records was positively correlated with the provider’s income (β 0.05, 95% CI 0.01 to 0.09). Providers at hospitals with prescription review were less likely to record completely (β −0.87, 95% CI −1.68 to 0.06). Significant variation by disease type was also found in keeping of any medical record and completeness. Conclusion: Despite the importance of medical records for health system functioning, many rural facilities have yet to implement systems for maintaining patient records, and records are often incomplete when they exist. Prescription review tied to performance evaluation should be implemented with caution as it may create disincentives for record keeping. Interventions to improve record keeping and management are needed. 
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Journal Articles

The Quality of Tuberculosis Care in Urban Migrant Clinics in China

Hao Xue, Jennifer Hager, Qi An, Kai Liu, Jing Zhang, Emma Auden, Bingyan Yang, Jie Yang, Hongyan Liu, Jingchun Nie, Aiqin Wang, Chengchao Zhou, Yaojiang Shi, Sean Sylvia
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2018 September 18, 2018

Large and increasing numbers of rural-to-urban migrants provided new challenges for tuberculosis control in large cities in China and increased the need for high quality tuberculosis care delivered by clinics in urban migrant communities. Based on a household survey in migrant communities, we selected and separated clinics into those that mainly serve migrants and those that mainly serve local residents. Using standardized patients, this study provided an objective comparison of the quality of tuberculosis care delivered by both types of clinics and examined factors related to quality care. Only 27% (95% confidence interval (CI) 14–46) of cases were correctly managed in migrant clinics, which is significantly worse than it in local clinics (50%, 95% CI 28–72). Clinicians with a base salary were 41 percentage points more likely to demonstrate better case management. Furthermore, clinicians with upper secondary or higher education level charged 20 RMB lower out of pocket fees than less-educated clinicians. In conclusion, the quality of tuberculosis care accessed by migrants was very poor and policies to improve the quality should be prioritized in current health reforms. Providing a base salary was a possible way to improve quality of care and increasing the education attainment of urban community clinicians might reduce the heavy barrier of medical expenses for migrants

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Journal Articles

Diagnostic Ability and Inappropriate Antibiotic Prescriptions: A Quasi-experimental Study of Primary Care Providers in Rural China

Hao Xue, Yaojiang Shi, Lei Huang, Hongmei Yi, Huan Zhou, Chengchao Zhou, Sarah Kotb, Joseph D. Tucker, Sean Y. Sylvia
Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, 2018 August 28, 2018

Background: China has one of the highest rates of antibiotic resistance. Existing studies document high rates of antibiotic prescription by primary care providers but there is little direct evidence on clinically inappropriate use of antibiotics or the drivers of antibiotic prescription.

Methods: To assess clinically inappropriate antibiotic prescriptions among rural primary care providers, we employed unannounced standardized patients (SPs) who presented three fixed disease cases, none of which indicated antibiotics. We compared antibiotic prescriptions of the same providers in interactions with SPs and matching vignettes assessing knowledge of diagnosis and treatment to assess overprescription attributable to deficits in diagnostic knowledge, therapeutic knowledge and factors that lead providers to deviate from their knowledge of best practice.

Results: Overall, antibiotics were inappropriately prescribed in 221/526 (42%) SP cases. Compared with SP inter- actions, prescription rates were 29% lower in matching clinical vignettes (42% versus 30%, P,0.0001). Compared with vignettes assessing diagnostic and therapeutic knowledge jointly, rates were 67% lower in vignettes with the diagnosis revealed (30% versus 10%, P , 0.0001). Antibiotic prescription in vignettes was in- versely related to measures of diagnostic process quality (completion of checklists).

Conclusions: Clinically inappropriate antibiotic prescription is common among primary care providers in rural China. While a large proportion of overprescription may be due to factors such as financial incentives tied to drug sales and perceived patient demand, our findings suggest that deficits in diagnostic knowledge are a major driver of unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions. Interventions to improve diagnostic capacity among providers in rural China are needed.

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Journal Articles

Parental Migration and Left-Behind Children's Depressive Symptoms: Estimation Based on a Nationally-Representative Panel Dataset

Mi Zhou, Xiaotong Sun, Li Huang, Guangsheng Zhang, Kaleigh Kenny, Hao Xue, Emma Auden, Scott Rozelle
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2018 May 24, 2018

China’s rapid urbanization in the past several decades have been accompanied by rural labor migration. An important question that has emerged is whether rural labor migration has a positive or negative impact on the depressive symptoms of children left behind in the countryside by their migrating parents. This paper uses a nationally representative panel dataset to investigate whether parental migration impacts the prevalence of depressive symptoms among left-behind children in China.

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Journal Articles

Depressive Symptoms of Chinese Children: Prevalence and Correlated Factors among Subgroups

Mi Zhou, Guangsheng Zhang, Scott Rozelle, Kaleigh Kenny, Hao Xue
International Journal of Environment Research and Public Health, 2018 February 7, 2018

Economic growth and socioeconomic changes have transformed nearly every aspect of childhood in China, and many are worried by the increasing prevalence of mental health issues among children, particularly depression. To provide insight into the distribution of depressive symptoms among children in China and identify vulnerable groups, we use data from the 2012 China Family Panel Survey (CFPS), a survey that collected data from a large, nationally representative sample of the Chinese population.

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Journal Articles

The Academic Performance of Primary School Students from Rural China: Distribution and Correlates

Hongyan Liu, Hao Xue, Yaojiang Shi, Scott Rozelle
China Agricultural Economic Review, 2018 January 15, 2018

Purpose – Low levels of human capital in rural China are rooted in the poor schooling outcomes of elementary school students. The purpose of this paper is to provide insight into the distribution of academic performance in rural China and identify vulnerable groups.
Design/methodology/approach – The authors draw on a data set of 25,892 observations constructed from 11 school-level surveys spanning nine provinces and one municipality in China conducted from 2013 to 2015. Findings – The authors find that the distribution of academic performance is uneven across provinces and subgroups. In general, male students, Han, living in richer counties, living with their parents and studying in rural public schools do better academically than female students, non-Han, living in poorer counties, left behind and studying in private migrant schools in cities.

Research limitations/implications – Using the results of this study, policymakers should be able to better target investments into rural education focusing on at risk subpopulations.
Originality/value – With limited data sources, the research on the academic performance of students in rural China is largely absent. The findings of this study help to fill the gaps in the literature base.

Keywords China, Rural areas, Academic performance Paper type Research paper

 

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Journal Articles

Tuberculosis Detection and the Challenges of Integrated Care in Rural China: A Cross-sectional Standardized Patient Study

Sean Sylvia, Hao Xue, Chengchao Zhou, Yaojiang Shi, Hongmei Yi, Huan Zhou, Scott Rozelle, Madhukar Pai, Jishnu Das
PLoS Medicine, 2017 October 17, 2017

Despite recent reductions in prevalence, China still faces a substantial tuberculosis (TB) burden, with future progress dependent on the ability of rural providers to appropriately detect and refer TB patients for further care. This study (a) provides a baseline assessment of the ability of rural providers to correctly manage presumptive TB cases; (b) measures the gap between provider knowledge and practice and; (c) evaluates how ongoing reforms of China’s health system—characterized by a movement toward “integrated care” and promo- tion of initial contact with grassroots providers—will affect the care of TB patients.

 

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Journal Articles

Tuberculosis detection and the challenges of integrated care in rural China: A crosssectional standardized patient study

Sean Sylvia, Hao Xue, ChengChao Zhou, Yaojiang Shi, Hongmei Yi, Huan Zhou, Scott Rozelle, Madhukar Pai, Jishnu Das
PLOS Medicine, 2017 October 17, 2017

Despite recent reductions in prevalence, China still faces a substantial tuberculosis (TB) burden, with future progress dependent on the ability of rural providers to appropriately detect and refer TB patients for further care.

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Journal Articles

Who are China's Rural Clinicians?

Hao Xue, Yaojiang Shi, Alexis Medina
China Agricultural Economic Review, 2016 June 25, 2016

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to measure the turnover (or stability in employment) of village clinicians in rural China over the past decade. The authors also want to provide quantitative evidence on the individual characteristics of the clinicians who provide health care to villagers in rural China and whether we should expect these individuals to be interested in continuing to supply quality health care in China’s villages in the coming years.

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Journal Articles

Survey using Incognito Standardized Patients Shows Poor Quality Care in China’s Rural Clinics

Sean Sylvia, Yaojiang Shi, Hao Xue, Xin Tian, Huan Wang, Qingmei Liu, Alexis Medina, Scott Rozelle
Health Policy & Planning, 2014 February 1, 2014

Over the past decade, China has implemented reforms designed to expand access to health care in rural areas. Little objective evidence exists, however, on the quality of that care. This paper reports results from a standardized patient study designed to assess the quality of care delivered by village clinicians in rural China. To measure quality, we recruited individuals from the local community to serve as undercover patients and trained them to present consistent symptoms of two common illnesses (dysentery and angina). Based on 82 covert interactions between the standardized patients and local clinicians, we find that the quality of care is low as measured by adherence to clinical checklists and the rates of correct diagnoses and treatments. Further analysis suggests that quality is most strongly correlated with provider qualifications. Our results highlight the need for policy action to address the low quality of care delivered by grassroots providers. 

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