Professor of Sociology and Education
Emily Hannum is Stanley I. Sheerr Term Professor in the Social Sciences and Professor of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is also Associate Dean for Social Sciences. She is affiliated with the Population Studies Center (https://www.pop.upenn.edu/), the Center for the Study of Contemporary China (https://cscc.sas.upenn.edu/), the Graduate School of Education (https://www.gse.upenn.edu/), and the Penn Development Research Initiative (https://pdri.upenn.edu/). Her research interests are poverty and child welfare, gender and ethnic stratification, and sociology of education. Current projects focus on childhood poverty in China (https://web.sas.upenn.edu/gansu-survey/), the implications of demographic decline for educational systems and educational inequality (https://web.sas.upenn.edu/demography-and-education/), and climate risk, pollution, and children’s welfare in China and in comparative perspective (https://web.sas.upenn.edu/climate-environment-children/). She co-directs the Gansu Survey of Children and Families (https://web.sas.upenn.edu/gansu-survey/), a longitudinal study of childhood poverty and upward mobility in rural northwest China, and she is collaborating on a set of projects on climate, environment and childhood inequalities (https://web.sas.upenn.edu/climate-environment-children/), China (https://nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1756738&HistoricalAwards=false">), India, and low- and middle-income countries (https://nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=2230615&HistoricalAwards=false). She is an investigator on a new collaborative project, commencing fall 2022, that investigates effects of coeducational and non-coeducational schools on long-term life outcomes in Korea (https://nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=2213917&HistoricalAwards=false) (PI: Hyunjoon Park). With Hyunjoon Park, she also organizes the Penn Education and Inequality Workshop (https://web.sas.upenn.edu/education-and-inequality-workshop/), which supports the development of graduate student and faculty research related to education and social stratification at Penn.
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PublicationIt's Not Just About the Money: Motivations for Youth Migration in Rural China(2013-02-18) Chiang, Yilin; Kao, Grace; Chiang, Yilin; Hannum, Emily C.; Kao, GraceThis study investigates the incentives for labor migration of youth in rural China using panel data from the Gansu Survey of Children and Families, a longitudinal study of youth in rural Gansu Province of China. We investigate the individual and altruistic economic motivations featured prominently in demographic and economic research on migration. However, we propose that the non-economic goal of personal development, a motivation suggested in numerous qualitative studies of women migrants in China and elsewhere, is also important, especially for young migrants. Analyzes indicate that, while young men and young women hold different motivations for migration, the desire for personal development is a common motivator for young migrants. Results suggest that non-economic incentives may play an important role in youth migration in rural China and that positioning in family structures shapes the susceptibility of individuals to migrate due to altruistic economic motivations. PublicationSociological Perspectives on Ethnicity and Education in China: Views from Chinese and English Literatures(2013-04-17) Cherng, Hua-Yu Sebastian; Lu, Chunping; Cherng, Hua-Yu Sebastian; Hannum, Emily C.; Lu, ChunpingThis paper reviews Chinese- and English-language literature on ethnic minorities and education in China. Six major research topics emerge from the Chinese-language research: (1) Marxism and ethnic minority education; (2) patriotism and national unity in education for ethnic minority students; (3) multicultural education; (4) determinants of ethnic differences in education; (5) school facilities and teacher quality; and (6) preferential / affirmative action policies. Four research themes are identified from the English-language literature: (1) policy overviews; (2) education and ethnic identity; (3) incentives and disincentives for buy-in to the education system; and (4) educational stratification. The majority of quantitative research from both Chinese- and English-language literature investigates ethnic minorities as a collective group. Qualitative research focuses on individual ethnic groups, although no one group is the focus of particular attention. More qualitative studies currently exist, but the number of quantitative studies is growing, given the growing availability of survey and census data containing information on ethnic minorities. Both literatures focus on the complex interrelationships of ethnicity with cultural, policy, development, and language issues. Yet, these literatures draw on different ideological starting points, conform to different norms of academic composition, and speak to different audiences in different sociopolitical contexts. For these reasons, the English literature tends to adopt a more critical tone. Overall, very little of the work in either language comes from the field of sociology of education. More comparatively and theoretically framed work is needed to enable the Chinese experience to be informed by and inform global research in sociology of education. PublicationPoverty, Food Insecurity and Nutritional Deprivation in Rural China: Implications for Children's Literacy Achievement(2012-03-08) Hannum, Emily C.; Hannum, Emily C.; Liu, Jihong; Frongillo, EdwardGlobally, food insecurity is a significant contextual aspect of childhood. About 850 million people were undernourished worldwide during the period 2006 to 2008, including 129.6 million people, or 10 percent of the population, in China (FAO 2011:45‐46). Implications of food insecurity for children's schooling in developing country contexts are poorly understood. Analyses of a survey of children from 100 villages in northwest China show that long‐term undernourishment and food insecurity strike the poorest disproportionately, but not exclusively; long‐term undernourishment matters for literacy via early achievement; and, after adjusting for socioeconomic status, long‐term undernourishment, and prior achievement, food insecure children have significantly lower literacy scores. PublicationSchool violence in China: A multi-level analysis of student victimization in rural middle schools(2016-12-05) Adams, Jennifer; Adams, Jennifer; Hannum, Emily C.Motivation: Physical victimization at school is little studied in impoverished developing country contexts. Moreover, the role of school and classroom contexts as risk factors remains poorly understood. Purpose: The aim of the study is to investigate the prevalence of physical victimization in rural Chinese middle schools as well as the individual, teacher/classroom, and school level risk factors associated with experiencing physical victimization. Design: We use two waves of longitudinal, representative survey data to perform a multi-level logistic regression analysis of physical victimization among middle school students from 100 villages in one of China’s poorest provinces. We focus on a subset of questionnaire items that were gathered from students when the sampled children were 13-16 years old. We also utilize student data from the first wave of the survey to control for prior internalizing problems and academic achievement. Finally, we link matched data collected from principal and teacher questionnaires to examine the risk factors for physical victimization associated with students’ microclimates and the wider school environment. Findings: A substantial proportion of middle school students (40%) reported having been beaten by classmates. Elevated risk was found among males; students with prior poor performance in language; students with past internalizing problems; students of female teachers and teachers evaluated as low performing; students in disruptive classrooms; and students in classrooms undergoing mandated reforms. Implications: These findings suggest that efforts to reduce school violence should not focus on the deficits of individual students, but rather should target practices to alter the within school risk factors associated with micro-climates. PublicationChildhood Inequality in China(2018-07-01) Young, Natalie A. E.; Hannum, Emily; Young, Natalie A. E.; Hannum, EmilyIn recent decades, China has transformed from a relatively egalitarian society to a highly unequal one. What are the implications of high levels of inequality for the lives of children? Drawing on two newly available, nationally representative datasets, the China Family Panel Studies and the China Education Panel Survey, we develop a comprehensive portrait of childhood inequality in post-reform China. Analyses reveal stark disparities between children from different socioeconomic backgrounds in family environments and in welfare outcomes, including physical health, psychosocial health, and educational performance. We argue that childhood inequality in China is driven not only by the deprivations of poverty, but also by the advantages of affluence, as high socioeconomic status children diverge from their middle and low socioeconomic status counterparts on various family environment and child welfare measures. PublicationShort- and Long-Term Outcomes of the Left Behind in China: Education, Well-Being and Life Opportunities(2018-01-01) Hannum, Emily; Hu, Li-Chung; Shen, Wensong; Hannum, Emily; Hu, Li-Chung; Shen, WensongThis report addresses the scope of China’s left-behind phenomenon and its roots in migration and education policies. It reviews evidence about disadvantages associated with left-behind status and discusses recent policy responses to the left-behind phenomenon. Empirical evidence is drawn from a national study of middle school students and a 15-year longitudinal case-study of children from rural Gansu, China. While a number of prior studies have shown mixed findings about the scale of educational disadvantage of left-behind children, compared to other groups, evidence presented here indicates that even after adjusting for school or community and household socioeconomic status, there are multiple domains in which homes of left-behind children are disadvantaged. They tend to live in households characterized by poorer health resources, cultural resources and social resources. By definition, they lose access, at least temporarily, to the “human capital” of their absent parents. Children in the short term thus experience more physiological, psychological, and (in the national comparison) educational disadvantages than their non-left-behind counterparts. In the long-term, our case study from Gansu Province suggests that father absence is associated with reduced educational attainment and possibly greater propensity to migrate, but not employment or long-term family relations. Overall, disadvantages appear to be more consistent and more generalized for mother-absent and dual-parent-absent families than for father-absent families. We discuss policy responses, and possible policy strategies, in the closing segment of the report. Policy reforms that obviate the need for children to be left behind are one evident solution to the problem, and some steps appear to be happening in this direction, but local resistance may be substantial. More immediately, boarding schools and community centers are commonly-proposed policy solutions to address the immediate needs of left-behind children, with promise but some clear pitfalls. Other possible supports are discussed. PublicationWho Goes, Who Stays, and Who Studies? Gender, Migration, and Educational Decisions among Rural Youth in China(2012-05-25) Chiang, Yilin; Kao, Grace; Chiang, Yilin; Hannum, Emily C.; Kao, GraceLittle is known about what affects the decision to migrate in China, despite the estimated 145 million rural migrants that reside in urban areas as of 2009. Drawing on a survey of youth from 100 villages in Gansu Province, we analyze migration and education decisions, with a focus on disparities associated with gender, sibship structure, and academic performance. Results show modest gender differences favoring boys in educational migration, but no gender differences in the overall likelihood of labor migration. Youth with older sisters are less likely to migrate, while youth with younger brothers are more likely to migrate. For girls, having older sisters is also negatively related to being a local or a migrant student, and better early academic performance is related to educational migration. For boys, labor migration may serve as a backup plan in the event of failing the high school entrance examination. Overall, results shed more light on the factors shaping educational migration than labor migration. PublicationPoverty and Proximate Barriers to Learning: Vision Deficiencies, Vision Correction and Educational Outcomes in Rural Northwest China(2008-07-18) Hannum, Emily; Hannum, Emily; Zhang, YupingFew studies of educational barriers in developing countries have investigated the role of children’s vision problems, despite the self-evident challenge that poor vision poses to classroom learning and the potential for a simple ameliorative intervention. We address this gap with an analysis of two datasets from Gansu Province, a highly impoverished province in northwest China. One dataset is the Gansu Survey of Children and Families (GSCF, 2000 and 2004), a panel survey of 2,000 children in 100 rural villages; the other is the Gansu Vision Intervention Project (GVIP, 2004), a randomized trial involving 19,185 students in 165 schools in two counties. Results attest to significant unmet need for vision correction. About 11 percent of third to fifth graders in the GVIP and about 17 percent of 13 to 16 year olds in the GSCF had diagnosed vision problems. Yet, just 1 percent of the GVIP sample and 7 percent of the GSCF sample wore glasses in 2004, and access to vision correction shows a sharp socioeconomic gradient in both datasets. Importantly, vision problems themselves are actually selective of higher socioeconomic status children and more academically engaged students, a finding that poses challenges to isolating the causal impact of glasses-wearing. Propensity score matching estimates based on the GSCF suggest a significant effect of glasses-wearing on standardized math and literacy tests, though not on language tests. Analysis of the GVIP intervention shows that those who received glasses were less likely to fail a class. While we cannot firmly rule out all sources of selectivity, findings are consistent with the commonsense notion that correcting vision supports learning. The high level of unmet need for vision correction, together with evidence suggesting that wearing glasses supports learning, indicates the potential value of this simple intervention for students in developing country settings. The selectivity issues involved in the analysis indicate the need for further empirical studies that test the impact of vision correction on learning. PublicationThe Asian Games, Air Pollution and Birth Outcomes in South China: An Instrumental Variable Approach(2021-06-10) Liu, Xiaoying; Hannum, Emily; Behrman, Jere R.; Liu, Xiaoying; Zhao, Qingguo; Miao, Huazhang; Behrman, Jere R.; Liang, Zhijiang; Zhao, QingguoWe estimate the causal effects of air pollution exposure on low birthweight, birthweight, and prematurity risk in South China, for all expectant mothers and by maternal age group and child sex. We do so by exploiting exogenous improvement in air quality during the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, when strict regulations were mandated to assure better air quality. We use daily air pollution levels collected from monitoring stations in Guangzhou, the Asian Games host city, and Shenzhen, a nearby control city, between 2009 and 2011. We first show that air quality during the Asian Games significantly improved in Guangzhou, relative to Shenzhen. Further, using birth-certificate data for both cities for 2009 to 2011 and using expected pregnancy overlap with the Asian Games as an instrumental variable, we study the effects of three pollutants (PM10, SO2, NO2) on birth outcomes. Results show that 1) air pollutants significantly reduced average birthweight and increased preterm risk; 2) for birthweight, late pregnancy is most sensitive to PM10 exposure, but there is not consistent evidence of a sensitive period for other pollutants and outcomes; 3) for birthweight, babies of mothers who are at least 35 years old show more vulnerability to all three air pollutants; and 4) male babies show more vulnerability than female babies to PM10 and SO2, but birthweights of female babies are more sensitive than those of male babies to NO2. PublicationBeyond Cost: Rural Perspectives on Barriers to Education(2008-12-31) Hannum, Emily C.; Hannum, Emily C.; Adams, JenniferIn China, education plays an increasingly important role in the creation of wealth and poverty. In the reform era, education has become closely tied to earnings (Yang 2005; Zhang et al. 2005). Returns to education in urban China increased significantly from 1978 to 1993, though returns were still relatively low in 1993, at less than four percent per year of schooling (Zhao and Zhou 2006). More recent trend data based on National Bureau of Statistics surveys show rapid increases in economic returns to a year of education in urban China: returns nearly tripled during the period 1992 to 2003, rising from 4.0 to 11.4 percent (Zhang and Zhao 2006). In rural areas, by the year 2000, an additional year of education increased wages by 6.4 percent among those engaged in wage employment, and education is becoming the dominant factor that determines whether rural laborers are successful in finding more lucrative off-farm jobs (de Brauw et al. 2002; de Brauw and Rozelle 2007; Zhao 1997). Given the rising role of education as a determinant of economic status, those who lack access to schooling are at high risk for a life of poverty.