Research Initiatives

Research Initiatives

Religion and Chinese Society

The revival of religion in the public space and political discourse is a global phenomenon that has captured the attention of the world in recent decades, with far-reaching yet ambiguous implications for the way the new century unfolds. China is no exception to this global trend, albeit with its own twists and nuances. Yet, with a few exceptions, the substance and scale of this burgeoning religious resurgence has yet to be investigated critically and thoroughly by scholars from multi-disciplinary perspectives. This project will involve various academic departments at Rutgers, including religion, history, social work, sociology, women and gender studies, anthropology, and political science. It will help to produce new and deep understanding of Chinese religions that enables us to know much better how Chinese religions function and negotiate their positions and influences under a variety of challenging forces: a predatory capitalist economy, an increasingly philistine culture, the influence of global religious movements, and an ever suspicious and authoritarian state. We will also gain insights about the specific roles and the degree of influence that religions can exert in shaping the social, moral, and cultural fabrics of the emerging superpower China and how they can bring their potential to bear in the improvement of health care, development, and other issues.

Read more: Religion and Chinese Society

Healthcare in China

One of the biggest problems in the Chinese healthcare system is the urban-rural divide, with the urban residents enjoying far superior healthcare benefits than the rural population. Consequently, the most serious challenge to the Chinese government is how to provide more effective coverage to the rural population. This project provides the first micro-level evidence on the impact of health insurance integration on health care utilization in China. Using difference-in-difference design and drawing on an original city-level data on social health insurance policy and the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS) in 2011, 2013 and 2015, we find that integrating the urban-resident and rural cooperative health insurance programs increased rural population’s utilization of inpatient health care by 9%. Moreover, we provide evidence on two possible mechanisms driving this relationship. First, the urban-rural health insurance integration attracted more rural people to enroll in the integrated health insurance program. Second, the urban-rural health insurance integration increased benefit level (e.g., lower inpatient cost-sharing) compared with the previous rural cooperative health insurance. The results suggest that reducing the fragmentation of health insurance can increase health insurance coverage and combat health-care inequality.