Back in September
For more than 10 years the Population Studies Center (PSC) at the University of Michigan has partnered with the NIH/Fogarty International Center (FIC) in a model program to foster an integrated effort to develop a research training infrastructure in population health within the international community. PSC currently has a particular emphasis on improving research training and capacity in China and South Africa. Faculty research programs include studies that examine the links between socio-economic inequality and demographic change, with special attention to the rapid political and economic transitions and rural-urban differences in income and access to resources that remain large in both countries.
Directed by Professor David Lam, the FIC Research Training in Population Health in China and South Africa program provides financial and intellectual support for trainees in South Africa and China. More specifically the training program includes both long term and short term training: doctoral training at the University of Michigan, doctoral training at the collaborating foreign institutions (mainly Peking University in China and the University of Cape Town in South Africa), post-doctoral training at Michigan and at the collaborating foreign institutions, and in-country training in the form of workshops and collaborative research. One example of short-term training is the seminar in international population research, titled "Population Research in Developing Countries." This training seminar has been extremely successful, providing a forum for interaction between UM researchers and Fogarty trainees and a focal point for bringing together trainees from different countries. The seminar is targeted toward Fogarty international trainees but is also open to other international students who attend the summer courses as well as U.S. students interested in international research. It provides an opportunity for foreign trainees to interact and share their research interests and experiences, to meet UM faculty, and to raise questions with faculty and with one another. The seminar also provides an important mechanism for formal instruction in the responsible conduct of research. Speakers to the seminar are UM faculty from various departments.
The Cape Area Panel Study (CAPS) led by Professor David Lam is a longitudinal survey of young people in metropolitan Cape Town. CAPS is one of the major collaborations between UM and UCT, and plays an important role in the training program. The project has been both a major component of collaborative research and a foundation for capacity building in survey methodology at UCT. Data collection began in 2002 with a representative sample of 4,800 young people aged 14-22 in metropolitan Cape Town. The Wave 1 instrument covered a broad range of topics, including school, work, migration, sexual activity, reproductive health, and fertility. Wave 1 also included data on all household members, as well as a sample of households that did not have residents aged 14-22. Wave 2 of CAPS was composed of two components. Wave 2A in 2003 interviewed 1/3 of the sample, with a special focus on HIV/AIDS and HIV/AIDS stigma. Wave 2B in 2004 interviewed the other 2/3 of the sample, with a special focus on youth employment and unemployment. Wave 3 took place in 2005 and was recently completed. Wave 3 continued the tracking of core outcomes such as school, work, health, and childbearing, and added detailed information on sexual partnerships, intergenerational transfers, and the impact of illness and death. Wave 4, which took place in 2006, reinterviewed the full sample of young adults for the fourth time, and added a sample of older adults (age 50+), including both older adults living with our young adult respondents as well as a sample of other older adults drawn from the original 2002 survey. Wave 4 also added major new modules on health, including the measurement of height and weight for both young adult and older adult respondents.
The other integral project of PSC's FIC training grant is led by Professor Yu Xie. This project is a product of UM President Mary Sue Coleman's 2005 visit to China. Peking University has invited UM to set up the PKU-UM Joint Institute, an independent, interdisciplinary teaching and research institution. The goal of the project is to collaborate on UM and PKU training and faculty research. The Population Studies Center is a main sponsor of the Survey Methodology and Quantitative Analysis Laboratory (SQL) at the PKU-UM Joint Institute. The SQL trains graduate and undergraduate students, as well as junior scholars, to use survey, statistical, and demographic methods in China. The primary mechanism for carrying out this mission is to offer a series of graduate-level courses, taught in English, on advanced topics in survey methodology and quantitative methodology. Although the activities are based at PKU in the Joint Institute, scholars from other institutions also benefit by taking classes at PKU and collaborating with researchers trained there. The ultimate goal of these efforts is to raise the level of demographic data collection and analysis in China.
In addition to the training program with PKU, the FIC project at PSC also facilitates the collaboration of UM faculty on an ambitious nationally-representative longitudinal household survey, called the "Chinese Family Panel Studies" (CFPS). The CFPS is a comprehensive survey with features modeled after the PSID, NLSY and HRS. Differing from the PSID, NLSY and HRS, the CFPS will be an omnibus survey that will interview all household members ages 10 and older. The sample will also be large, targeted at 16,000 households. The survey has five substantive foci: social well-being, economic well-being, demographic outcomes, education, and health. The survey instruments are actively being developed. To launch the survey, Peking University has established a new survey center, called the "Institute of Social Science Survey." The Institute's Director, Professor Qiu Zeqi, a sociologist, collaborates with Yu Xie on the survey. An international academic advisory committee is also overseeing the survey and includes the following U.S.-based scholars: Michael Carter, Bob Hauser, James Heckman, Jim Lepkowski, Steve Raudenbush, Nora Schaeffer, Bob Willis, Don Treiman, Yu Xie (as Chair), and Jean Yeung (names in bold type are those of UM scholars). The CFPS promises to provide to the academic community the most comprehensive and highest-quality demographic data yet collected on contemporary China.
The CFPS study covers a comprehensive set of topics from health and family relationships to socioeconomic status, with particular attention to the role of the family and the community in mitigating economics shocks at a time when both the economy and the level of inequality have been growing at a rapid pace. The CFPS study is a good fit with the training program at PKU, as it provides a natural bridge between demographic training and research in China. The participants in the various training programs (summer program, Ph.D. program, or postdoctoral program) will be expected to participate in the CFPS survey and conduct their research using the CFPS data.