Population Health and Family Demography Social stratification and health With Hui Zheng (Ohio State University), Claire Yang (UNC-Chapel Hill), and Kenneth Land (Duke University), I investigate racial disparities in cohort patterns of overall and cause-specific mortality in the United States (International Journal of Epidemiology, 2018).In a solo-authored paper, I examine the inter-cohort patterns of educational disparities in fertility levels and timing among Gen Xers in the United States (Population Studies, 2019). In a Sociological Science publication, with Nan Dirk de Graaf (Oxford University), I show that inter- and intragenerational upward mobility may not lead to greater happiness in transitional societies with dramatic economic and social changes. My publication in Social Indicators Researchco-authored with Anthony Bardo (University of Kentucky) examined the roles of objective social status, subjective social status, and their discrepancies for health outcomes in East Asia.
Social contexts, household dynamics, and well-being I'm interested in how household dynamics, particularly those shaped by structural forces, affect household members' well-being. The structural force I focus on among my work on China is the long-lasting patriarchy. Using twelve decades of registration data from historical China, my work with Cameron Campbell (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology) investigates the effect of early life co-residence with paternal grandparents on later-life mortality risks (Demography, 2018). Our results suggest that cumulative health disadvantages in childhood resulting from conflicts between mothers and their in-laws led to adverse health outcomes in later life, which highlights the important role of early-life family experiences shaped by the patriarchal features of Chinese families. My work with Hui Zheng (Ohio State University) usng the same data investigates the effect of sex ratio at sexual maturity on later life mortality risks (Social Science & Medicine, 2018). Our findings highlight the important role of marriage market experiences shaped by the traditional preferences for sons in China: a high sex ratio at sexual maturity mitigated the health benefits of marriages and led to higher later-life mortality risks. In my work on contemporary China, I have examined the unintended consequences of two public policies with a strong patriarchal flavor - the 2011 judicial interpretation to the New Marriage Law (Journal of Marriage and Family, 2020) and the legal retirement ages (Social Science & Medicine, 2020).
In the U.S. context, along with Phil Cook (Duke University) and Poh Lin Tan (National University of Singapore), using school administration data linked with students' birth certificates in North Carolina, we examine the differential roles of inter-sibling influence in explaining sibling correlations in test scores among socioeconomically disadvantaged (e.g. racial minority, single-mother families) and advantaged families. Our results show that driven by structural forces, inter-sibling influence explains the majority of the sibling correlation among disadvantaged families whereas the relative contribution among advantaged families is small.
Modelling trajectories and life transitions My work on health inequality has led to my scholarship on developing flexible and user-friendly methodologies. My work on Bayesian multistate life tables (MSLT) with Scott Lynch (Duke University) seeks to extend the method developed by Lynch and Brown (2005) by allowing for complex, high-dimensional state spaces (PAA Annual Meeting, 2018). I am also working with Justin Max on developing a Bayesian approach to estimating group-based trajectory models. We focused on the development of Bayesian estimation procedures for the group-based single trajectory and dual trajectory models with normally distributed outcomes, and draw on recent advancements on Bayesian model averaging in finite mixtures of regressions to provide an efficient variable selection method for GBTMs (Psychological Methods, 2020). Aside from modeling individual life trajectories, I am a member in Kenneth Land’s (Duke University) team on evaluating Age-Period-Cohort (APC) models (American Journal of Sociology, 2016). Stratification, Mobility, and Inequality in General Several of my side projects focus on social stratification, mobility, and inequality in general. My working paper co-authored with James Lee (HKUST) adds the dimension of parental industrial affiliation to the traditional focuses on social class, income, occupation, and education when examining intergenerational transmission. In another working project with Xi Song (University of Chicago) and Kenneth Land (Duke University), we focus on income dynamics over the individual’s life course and examine the association of income trajectories across generations in the U.S (PAA Annual Meeting, 2017).