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Migration and the health and well-being of China's rural population

Dates: 2006-2009
Funding: National Science Foundation
Collaborators: Center for Health Policy and Management, Shandong University; Harvard University
Information: Winnie Yip

This is an interdisciplinary research program that aims to examine migration as an agent of change and how that affects a set of complex and dynamic relationships among many economic, social and cultural factors and their effects on the health and well-being of individuals. Unlike most existing literature that focuses on the conditions of migrant workers in the urban cities, our program focuses on how migration changes economic, social and cultural conditions in the sending areas and their consequences on the health and well-being of the left-behind population through three channels: a) Social networks/capital, b) Cultural value change, and c) Income and relative socioeconomic status.

Methodologically, this project integrates ethnographic studies and household surveys, consisting the following three steps: pre-survey ethnographic studies to inform the study on hypothesis formulation and design of culturally and socially sensitive survey instruments; household surveys to collect quantitative data; and post-survey ethnography to resolve “puzzling” survey findings and provide rich qualitative information for interpreting survey results. In addition, the project uses the most recently developed “Day Reconstruction Method” to measure well-being, which represents the frontier of social and behavioral research. The study is taking place in the provinces of Anhui, Sichuan and Shandong, China.