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!

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 prefects during the Qing using the CGED-Q

Hu Heng at the Institute of Qing History at Renmin University just published a paper on the appointment of prefects during the Qing, with Bijia Chen and me as second and third authors. The paper makes use of spatial data as well as the government ratings of prefectures that determined who controlled the appointment of their prefects, and makes use of the CGED-Q to examine the qualifications, and previous and subsequent appointments of prefects. The paper is available here: http://dx.doi.org/10.6743%2fNAJ.202008_37.0009 Here is the abstract:
Prefects played an essential role in the system of local government during the Qing dynasty. Examining the process by which they were appointed, including exceptions and variations, sheds light on the governing strategies of the Qing state. We conduct spatial and quantitative analysis of the appointment of prefects based on the most recent data on the government’s ratings of the significance and difficulty (chongfanpinan and quefen) for each prefecture. The results reveal the importance of the process of appointment of variations across prefectures in transportation, government affairs, revenue collection, and public security. They collectively determined who had the authority to appoint the prefect for a prefecture: the Emperor (gingzhi que), the Board of Personnel (buxuan que), or the Governor-General (tidiao que). Appointments by the Emperor accounted for 48.3 percent of prefectures. These were in the most important regions of the country. Appointments by the Governor-General accounted for 26.1 percent of prefectures. At the beginning they were mainly in the regions where the Miao resided, including Yunnan, Guizhou, Guangxi and Hunan. Later, some prefectures on the provincial boundaries were also included. In the late Qing, prefects in all the newly created provinces were appointed by Govermors-General. Appointments by the Board of Personnel accounted for 25.6% of prefectures and they were concentrated in areas close to the boundaries of inland provinces. The spatial distribution of the classifications generally followed the government’s assessment of the difficulties of governing various regions in China, but there were exceptions and problems like the differentiation of treatment in the Southwestern boundary regions, neglect of the change of prefectures and classifications in coastal border areas and qualification immutability. The classification of prefectures was closely related to the appointment of prefects. We analyzed the career histories of 3403 prefects recorded in 37752 entries about Qing civil servants extracted from the 3,000,000 in nearly CGED-Q database. Using STATA to categorize, summarize, correlate and track these data ,, we examine the time trends in the characteristics of prefects, including the proportions of Manchu or Han prefects and their province of origin. For the latter, we focused specifically on the increase in the number of prefects from Hunan in the late Qing period. The results of our analysis make use of new data to advance our understanding of the political geography of China in the late Qing and the Republican periods. Regarding the career transitions in the civil service, 61.9 percent of prefects were transferred from posts in the central govermment and only 35.8 percent were promoted from posts in local govermments. This undoubtedly had a negative effect on the motivation of county magistrates. Prospects for promotion for prefects was generally high: 21 percent would reach higher office. For prefects who served in prefectures categorized as most significant (zuiyao gue) and significant (vao gue), the chance of promotion was between 23.5 and 26.3 percent. Those who were prefects in provincial capitals had even higher chances of being promoted: 40.5 percent. The distribution of control over the appointment of prefects and the institutional changes over time reveal the tension and competition over power between the central and local government. In the Qing, governance at the prefectural level was characterized as "blocking between the upper and the lower [level of government]". This was partly driven by the structure of the system, according to which officials were more likely to manage other officials than govern people, and prefects were more likely to be transferred from the central government than promoted from lower levels of local government. The increased power of Governor-Generals and the prevalence of temporary appointments for prefects may have been responses to these drawbacks, but the imbalance of the distribution of power was also a challenge for the state.
胡恆(Hu Heng), 陳必佳(Bijia Chen) and 康文林(Cameron D. Campbell. 2020. 清代知府選任的空間與量化分析——以政區分等、《縉紳錄》數據庫為中心 (The Appointment of Prefects during the Qing —- A Spatial and Quantitative Analysis Focusing on the System of Administrative Division and Using the CGED-Q). 新亞學報(New Asia Journal).37(August):339-398. http://dx.doi.org/10.6743%2fNAJ.202008_37.0009

New paper recapping 40 years of ‘big data’ research on population, family and social history by James Lee, Cameron Campbell and collaborators

James Lee and Cameron Campbell in Daoyi in 1987

Cameron Campbell and James Lee just published an article on the contributions of the Lee-Campbell Research Group to a new scholarship of discovery in Chinese population history, family history, and socio-economic history based on our construction and analysis from 1979 to 2020 of large historical datasets from largely archival records.  Our paper first introduces these datasets, then describes our joint research, and concludes with a summary of our major analytic results. This publication is an invited contribution to a special issue of Historical Life Course Studies which introduces the major historical population databases. Papers on the Quebec BALSAC project and the Historical Sample of the Netherlands are already posted.

Here is the web page:


This both a career retrospective and a comprehensive summary of everything that James, Cameron and the Lee-Campbell Group have done together over more than four decades that ties everything together and shows how each project led to the next. It starts from our early efforts in population history using household registers, and proceeds sequentially up to the present day, including our new projects on university students, civil officials, and educated professionals.

In front of the No. 1 Historical Archives in Beijing in 1987

The section on the history of our collaboration will hopefully be the most readable: it starts with James Lee’s visit to China in 1979 to look for records in historical archives that could be turned into databases, then Cameron  shows up in 1987 at the end his sophomore year at Caltech. Later others joined to form what is now the Lee-Campbell Group. We also talk about our involvement in the Eurasia Project in Population and Family History including what we hope will be interesting anecdotes, reminisces, and reflections.

The introduction to our databases and summary of results, meanwhile, is the first time we have put almost everything we have done together in one place. We hope that it will be useful for those who may be familiar with specific pieces of our work to gain a better sense of the larger research agenda In into which these pieces fit.

This was a fun paper to write, especially the history section which includes some discussion of our faculty years at Caltech 1982-2002, UCLA 1996-2015, Michigan 1980-1982, 1995-1996, 2002-2009 and most recently HKUST 2009/2013-onwards and the contributions of these institutions and our colleagues to advancing our research projects.