My research focuses on the relationships between kinship, inequality, and demographic behavior. I have published extensively on family, population, and stratification in eighteenth and nineteenth century northeast China, most notably the book Fate and Fortune in Rural China with James Lee. With James Lee, I am currently working on a book tentatively titled Genealogy and Inequality examining interactions between kinship, inequality, and demographic behavior in Liaoning, northeast China from the seventeenth century to the present. The specific focus is on the role of kinship networks such as descent groups in creating and sustaining patterns of inequality across multiple generations. We argue that kin networks such as descent groups play an important but heretofore neglected role in shaping patterns of stratification, and suggest that this neglect reflects the focus on the role of parental characteristics in models for the study of stratification in the Western experience. The book builds on themes in our recent journal publications, including long term continuity of the relative status of kin groups in China from the Qing dynasty to the present, and the influence of kin network characteristics on the demographic behavior and social attainment of individuals. I have also published on a wide variety of other topics, including economic, family and social influences on marriage, fertility limitation in historical China, influence of family context in childhood on mortality in middle age and old age, ethnic identity as reflected in naming behavior, and inter-generational social mobility.
For the analysis of Liaoning, Lee and I constructed databases from eighteenth and nineteenth century population registers, the China Multigenerational Panel Dataset-Liaoning (CMGPD-LN)
that we have released publicly at the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) with support from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) with funds from R01 HD057175-01A1 (Lee PI). This database comprises 1.5 million observations of more than 250,000 people in several hundred Liaoning villages from 1749 to 1909. A key feature of these data is that through automated record linkage of kin, we have been able to sort the individuals in the database into approximately 1000 distinct descent groups defined by common descent from a founder, allowing for the use of the descent group as a unit of analysis. Chinese language documentation is being released via the Institute on the History and Society of Northeast China
at Shanghai Jiaotong University.
With new support from NICHD 1R01HD070985-01 (Campbell PI), we are in the midst of releasing a second database we have constructed for Shuangcheng county in Heilongjiang province in northeast China. The population is very different from the one in Liaoning. It consists of settlers who arrived in the area earlier in the nineteenth century along with their descendants. The registers cover the population annually from 1865 to 1911. Distinguishing features of the dataset include the availability of linked landholding registers, and a much richer set of variables describing social status.
I am active in efforts to promote the use of household register data from various settings in East Asia to carry out comparative studies within that region. One key focus has been to promote connections among researchers working with East Asian historical household register data. Towards this end, I convened meetings at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in September 2010 and at UCLA in August 2011 to bring together scholars working with Chinese, Japanese, and Korean data. These received support from the UC Pacific Rim Research Program. At these meetings, researchers introduced their data, presented papers, and we developed plans for coordination for future research on topics such as migration and stratification. Revised versions of selected papers are currently under review for publication in a special collection at a journal.
I collaborate with Lee and other members of the Lee-Campbell research group
on a variety of other projects, including a study of demographic behavior and stratification in the Qing Imperial Lineage; family organization, demographic behavior, and inequality in a frontier population, Shuangcheng, Heilongjiang; and access to elite education in China since 1949.
I am also a participant in the Eurasia Project, an international collaboration that compares relationships between economic conditions, household organization, and demographic behavior for a variety of historical European and Asian communities. I am a co-author of the first volume from this effort, Life Under Pressure
, published in 2004 by MIT Press, that examines how household responses to economic stress were reflected in mortality patterns. I also participated in the second volume, Prudence and Pressure
, which was published in 2010, and in the third volume, Similarity in Difference
, which focuses on marriage and is currently under review at MIT Press.
I have served as Program Director for two NIH supported T32 training programs. I served as Program Director for the California Center for Population Research Training Program (NICHD 5T32HD007545) from 2007 to 2011. Professor Julie Bower in Health Psychology and I, with support from colleagues from across campus, established an innovative, interdisciplinary program to train behavioral and population science students to conduct research at the interface of the behavioral, biomedical, and population sciences. I served as Program Director from the programs' founding in 2009 to 2012. The program was supported by a T32 from the NIGMS (1T32GM084903-01A1).
My honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship awarded in 2004, and an Award for Outstanding Book on Asia for Life Under Pressure from the American Sociological Association Section on Asia and Asian America.
From July 2013 onward, I will be at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and on leave from UCLA.