New publication using process mining to study the careers of Qing officials in the CGED-Q JSL

Adam Burke at the Queensland University of Technology lead-authored a paper “State Snapshot Process Discovery on Career Paths of Qing Dynasty Civil Servants” that introduces a new process mining technique he calls ‘state snapshot process discovery’ and illustrates it by application to our CGED-Q JSL data on the careers of jinshi officials. Cameron Campbell is a co-author. The paper has been accepted for presentation at the 5th International Conference on Process Mining (ICPM2023), in Rome, Italy, in October 2023.

A pre-print of the paper is available at Adam’s website:

Here is a figure from the paper that summarizes the empirical reconstruction of the careers of first and second tier (一甲 and 二甲) jinshi in the years after they earned their degree. One of the attractions of the CGED-Q JSL for demonstrating this technique was that there were canonical career pathways specified by regulations for such high-ranked degree holders, thus it was possible to assess whether the empirical results derived from the data were consistent with the canonical career pathways. We hope that extensions of this technique, and possibly other techniques, can be used to explore the trajectories of officials with more mundane qualifications.

For this paper, Cameron Campbell helped Adam and the other collaborators (Sander Leemans and Moe T. Wynn) understand the data that we provided, and advise on adjustments to accommodate undocumented or otherwise unanticipated features of the data in successive iterations, and then assist in the writing of sections related to the data and the historical context, background on the social science studies of careers, the interpretation of the results.

We are happy to collaborate with computer scientists and other researchers developing techniques for understanding careers and trajectories more generally in complex longitudinal data, who need data like the CGED-Q to showcase their approaches.

New 大数据与中国历史 with translation of Cameron Campbell’s and James Lee’s 40 year career retrospective is now available

The 4th edition of the annual 大数据与中国历史 (Big Data and Chinese History), edited by Fu Haiyan at Central China Normal University, is out now from 社会科学文献出版社 (Social Science Documents Publishing House). It includes a Chinese translation of my and James Lee’s career retrospective, summarizing our work over the last four decades constructing and analyzing historical population and other databases for China.

The full text is available here.

Here is a link to the volume’s page at Dangdang in case you want to order:

The English language original of our retrospective is available here:

Here is the complete reference for the Chinese language translation:

康文林 (Cameron Campbell),李中清 (James Lee). 2023. 中国历史量化微观大数据:李中清-康文林团队40 年学术回顾 in 付海晏 Ed. 大数据与中国历史研究. 第4辑. Beijing:社会科学文献出版社 Social Sciences Academic Press (China), 74-114.

English version of forthcoming paper on the organizational demography of the Qing civil service

社會科學研究 (Social Science Research) published by the Sichuan Academy of Social Science has accepted our paper “The Organizational Demography of the Qing Civil Service, 1830-1911” and tentatively scheduled it for publication in 2024. In the meantime, they have given permission for us to share the English language version. Here is the PDF:

The Organizational Demography of the Qing Civil Service, 1830-1911

The paper is largely descriptive. It uses the CGED-Q JSL to measure the turnover of officials, career lengths, and years since appointment for currently serving officials. It was inspired by the older literature on organizational demography that sought to relate the performance of organizations to aggregate ‘demographic’ features such as their turnover, length of service and so forth. We hope that it will be a useful reference for anyone studying Qing officialdom. Previous studies of the dynamics of Qing official have focused on the lengths of appointments to specific posts, and turnover in those posts, rather than entire careers.

Here is the abstract:

We study the organizational demography of the Qing civil service from 1830 to 1911. Before the 20th century, the Qing bureaucracy was one of the largest non-military organizations in the world in terms of numbers of regular employees. At any given time, approximately 13,000 officials held formal appointments. We present the basic features of its organizational demography using data on nearly all civil officials with formal appointments from 1830 to 1912. We make use of longitudinally linked records of officials in the China Government Employee Database – Jinshenlu (CGED-Q JSL) to reconstruct rates of exit from service, the career lengths of officials, and the number of years since first appointment for currently serving officials. While previous studies of the Qing have examined turnover in specific types of posts, they have not considered the dynamics of complete careers. We find that exit rates in the first year of service were high and then low and stable afterward. While most officials only served for a short time, currently serving officials were relatively experienced. We also show that rates of exit from service declined for much of the last half of the 19th century, and then increased in the first decade of the 20th century. Declining turnover in the last half of the 19th century would have reduced opportunities for degree holders seeking posts and for officials seeking promotion at a time when the number of holders of purchased degrees competing for posts was increasing. We also compare different categories of officials. The results not only illuminate basic features of the organizational demography of Qing officialdom, but also provide a baseline for interpreting results from case studies of specific groups of officials or specific time periods.

Here’s a figure from the paper, presenting time trends in rates of exit from service in the next three months for officials with different amounts of experience:

Hao Dong publishes a new Chinese article in 社会学研究 on the effect of China’s cooling-off period policy on trends in divorce registration

Hao Dong has just published a single-authored paper in the top Chinese-language sociology journal 社会学研究 (Sociological Studies) titled 此情或可待:“离婚冷静期”规定对离婚登记数量趋势的影响 (A Wait Perhaps Worthwhile:The Influence of a “Cooling-off” Period on Trends in Divorce Registration)

Here is the Chinese abstract and English translation:


This study examines the influence of a 30-day “cooling-off” period policy on trends in divorce registration,shedding light on the intervention on certain unmeasurable subjective factors-including impulsiveness-in divorce decisionmaking in China. The analysis employs province-quarter-level data of divorce registration from the Ministry of Civil Affairs in 2018-2021 and further incorporates data from the National Bureau of Statistics,China Judgements Online,and the Baidu Index. Based on the policy evaluation methods,such as the event-study and difference-in-differences,evidence consistently suggests a substantial influence of the policy,which reduces 10.3-13.2 thousand divorces per province per quarter on average,amounting to a decline of 33-42% compared to the previous three years. Moreover,the influence appears to be greater in provinces with more previously divorced couples restoring their marriages,more divorces between young couples,or more internet searches about the policy and divorce-related information,highlighting some potential mechanisms underlying the intervention.

Congratulations Hao Dong!

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Hao Dong publishes a new article in Demography on post-1900 trends in educational assortative marriage in China

Hao Dong and his collaborator Yu Xie have published a paper in Demography titled “Trends in Educational Assortative Marriage in China Over the Past Century.”

Here is the abstract:

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.

Congratulations Hao Dong and Yu Xie!

New paper by others using CMGPD-LN

We were pleased to learn that Yu Bai, Yanjun Li, and Pak Hong Lam had just published a paper “Quantity-quality trade-off in Northeast China during the Qing dynasty” in the Journal of Population Economics using the public release of the CMGPD-LN! We hope their paper along with other recent publications by others using the dataset will inspire others to use it.

Here is a link to their paper:

We are eternally grateful for the support from NICHHD that allowed us to prepare the CMGPD-LN for release, and to ICPSR for hosting the dataset.

James Lee, Bamboo Ren, and Chen Liang Publish an Updated Version of their 2020 China Quarterly Article “Meritocracy and the Making of the Chinese Academe, 1912-1952”

Cover of Khanna and Szonyi’s edited volume Making Meritocracy

In “Meritocracy and the Making of the Chinese Academe Redux, 1912-1952”, a chapter in the new Oxford University Press volume edited by Michael Szonyi and Tarun Khanna Making Meritocracy: Lessons from China and India, from antiquity to the present, James Lee, Bamboo Y. Ren, and Chen Liang update the figures, maps, tables and related text from their earlier China Quarterly article to include domestic student data from five additional Chinese universities as well as data on many more overseas Chinese students from foreign universities.

Web page for Making Meritocracy at Oxford University Press

Full reference:

Lee, James, Bamboo Y. Ren, and Chen Liang. 2022. Meritocracy and the Making of the Chinese Academe Redux, 1912-1952. In Michael Szonyi and Tarun Khanna, eds. Making Meritocracy: Lessons from China and India. Oxford University Press, 137-169.

HKUST colleague Lawrence Zhang contributed a chapter to the same volume:

Sheth, Sudev and and Lawrence L. C. Zhang. 2022. “Meritocracy in Early Modern Asia: Qing China and Mughal India.”  In Michael Szonyi and Tarun Khanna. Eds. 2022. Making Meritocracy: Lessons from China and India, from Antiquity to the Present, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 85-117.

Chinese Translation of Campbell’s and Lee’s Historical Chinese Microdata: 40 Years of Dataset Construction by the Lee-Campbell Research Group

A Chinese translation of Cameron Campbell’s and James Lee’s Historical Life Course Studies paper “Historical Chinese Microdata. 40 Years of Dataset Construction by the Lee-Campbell Research Group” is forthcoming in a volume of Big Data and the Study of Chinese History 大数据与中国历史研究. The title of the translation is 中国历史量化微观大数据李中清康文林团队40年学术回顾. This paper reviews all of our projects since 1979, including construction of datasets and the study of topics in population, family, and social mobility. Pending the appearance of the volume, we are making a PDF of the translation available.

Here is the PDF of the Chinese translation of Historical Chinese Microdata. 40 Years of Dataset Construction by the Lee-Campbell Research Group.

Here is the English language original, in case you missed it.


New paper on nominative linkage in the CGED-Q in Historical Life Course Studies

Cameron Campbell and Bijia Chen published a paper “Nominative Linkage of Records of Officials in the China Government Employee Dataset-Qing (CGED-Q)” in Historical Life Course Studies. It shares their experience with nominative linkage in the CGED-Q. It is  intended to be useful to others who are engaged in large-scale, automated nominative linkage (disambiguation) of individuals in historical Chinese-language sources.

While the approach that they arrived at after many iterations may be specific to the CGED-Q and its contents, the summary of the challenges will be of broader interest, and the methods should at least be a roadmap for others with related projects. Major issues the paper documents and then addresses include the use of variant orthographies for the same character in different editions or sources, replacement of characters with ones that look similar but are actually completely different, replacement of characters with homophones, inconsistencies in the writing of the names of counties, and changes in boundaries that led the same county to be associated with different provinces in different sources or editions.

The complete tabulations that are the basis of the tables in the paper are also available. These include the frequencies of surnames and given names in the CGED-Q JSL, and the frequencies of discordance across record of the same individual in the recording of surnames, characters in given names, and place of origin. The tabulations can be downloaded at the HKUST and Harvard Dataspaces:

Those not specifically interested in linkage may still be interested in the tabulations of surnames and characters in given names.


Footnote 21 on page 245 states that “Huguang湖廣” refers to “Hunan and Guangdong”. Ma Ziyao has written to point out that “In most cases, however, it has been a legacy term for Hubei and Hunan. The “guang” here originally comes from Guangxi during the Yuan but should not be mistaken for the Qing-era Liangguang兩廣 region to the south of Hunan.” We are grateful to Ma Ziyao for bringing this to our attention.

Xue Qin publishes lead-authored article on officials in the Ministry of Personnel in the late Qing using the CGED-Q

Xue Qin published a lead-authored article on officials in the Ministry of Personnel in the late Qing that uses the CGED-Q. The title of the article is 清季改革视阈下吏部官员群体的人事递嬗与结构变迁(1898—1911)——以《缙绅录》数据库为中心 Change and Constancy: The Personnel Evolution and Structural Change of the Ministry of Personnel during the Reform in Qing Dynasty —— Based on China Government Employee Database – Qing (CGED-Q). The article appeared in 社会科学研究 (Social Science Research). Cameron Campbell was the second author.

Here is the Chinese language abstract:


Complete reference:

薛勤 (Xue Qin) and 康文林 (Cameron Campbell). 2022. 清季改革视阈下吏部官员群体的人事递嬗与结构变迁(1898—1911)——以《缙绅录》数据库为中心 Change and Constancy: The Personnel Evolution and Structural Change of the Ministry of Personnel during the Reform in Qing Dynasty  —— Based on China Government Employee Database – Qing (CGED-Q). 社会科学研究 (Social Science Research). 2(259):173-182.

Congratulations Xue Qin!