The China Family Panel Studies: Design and Practice

Publication Abstract

Hu, Jingwei, Yu Xie, and Chunni Zhang. 2014. "The China Family Panel Studies: Design and Practice." Society: Chinese Journal of Sociology, 34(2): 1-32.

The China Family Panel Studies (CFPS), launched by Peking University, is a nationwide, comprehensive, longitudinal social survey. The project aims to document historically unprecedented social changes that are currently taking place in China in different domains by repeatedly collecting information from a sample of individuals, households, and communities over an extended period. In order to help researchers better understand the CFPS project and its data, this article describes the background and characteristics of the CFPS in four aspects. In research design, the CFPS adopts multiple-level questionnaires and a panel design to track changes in individuals and households so as to allow researchers to study heterogeneity, embeddedness, complexity, and time-dependency of social phenomena. In implementation, it uses multi-stage, implicit stratification, and probability proportion to size sampling methods with a sampling frame that integrates rural and urban populations to obtain a nationally representative sample. To assure data quality, the CFPS uses advanced computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI) techniques in its fieldwork. By now, the 2010 baseline survey, the 2011 small-scale followup survey for maintenance, and the 2012 full-scale followup survey have been completed. All follow-up strategies have met many research needs but remained practical. In contents, the CFPS learned from the methods and experiences from the most influential survey projects in the world. The questionnaires not only cover a wide range of topics but also consist of intergraded modules for rural and urban interviews and gathering information of family structure and family members, migrant mobility, event history (e. g., history of marriage, education, and employment), cognitive ability, and child development. Finally, we present preliminary findings about income inequality and poverty, marital events and cohabitation, and cognitive ability based on the 2010 and 2012 CFPS data, as demonstrations of the CFPS's potentials for social science, owing to its strengths in research design and topical contents.

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