Featured Student: Tianlei (Ruby) Qiu

In early 2022, China implemented its Third-Child policy in an effort to boost the country’s declining fertility rate. However, after two years of implementation, the policy has shown limited effectiveness. Against this backdrop, Ruby Qiu, a senior student majoring in Institution and Governance with a focus on Public Policy, has chosen to delve into this issue for her signature work. Previously collaborating with Prof. Jiahua Yue on the CSCC student research projectChinese Public Opinion Toward the Three-Child Policy and Women’s Rights“, Ruby’s research interests lie in the impact of policies on women and children in China, as well as policy theory development in the Chinese context. Her signature work seeks to explore how various aspects of the three-child policy influence public acceptance.

Q: Hi Ruby, thanks for meeting up with us! Could you tell us a bit more about your signature work and the background of it? Where did the idea come from?

Ruby: Sure! My SW is about measuring citizens’ opinions of the third-child policy. Regarding the idea, I was taking Prof. Jiahua Yue’s Public Opinions, which examines ways of measuring public opinions, especially in Chinese authoritarian settings. This was in the spring of 2022 when the Chinese government suddenly shifted the restrictive fertility policy from a universal two-child policy to a three-child policy. I thought it would be interesting to see how Chinese citizens view this policy, given a lot of their negative comments were banned online due to censorship. I wrote a research proposal as my course final project, and this eventually became my signature work topic.

The study explores citizens’ perspectives on the supporting policies related to childbirth, considering various demographic and social factors. It highlights the importance of comprehending Chinese citizens’ views on government policies, particularly those related to addressing the ongoing population crisis. We adopted a choice-based conjoint analysis to examine how citizens value different policy bundles aimed at boosting the childbirth rate, revealing key policy dimensions that resonate across different age groups. Our first-wave findings indicate a strong interest in house mortgage interest reduction, increased coverage of healthcare fees, and longer paternity leave, while other dimensions, such as Gaokao bonus points and public preschool services, receive less attention from Chinese citizens.

Q: Thank you for sharing! Sounds interesting. Have you encountered any challenges while working on your signature work? How did you overcome that?

Ruby: Thank you for asking. Of course. Given that policy was shifted quickly, there was not enough information online back in 2022. It was somehow difficult for me to find enough literature to fully understand the topic. That being said, the research gap is there. So I would say this is a double-edged sword, providing enough avenue for us to explore different articles, analyze the issue, and design our survey. Another challenge was that our two-wave survey required in total ~5,000 respondents. Despite reaching out to a commercial survey company to help us spread the survey, we also recruited ~30 part-time students to help us distribute the survey in their hometowns to ensure adequate representation (Thanks to CSCC research funding and students’ support!). Their contribution means a lot to our research. One thing I’ve learned is that I need to leverage your existing resources to try to implement the research.

Q: Thank you! That’s very inspiring. You are now a senior applying for grad school? Could you also tell us a bit more about your future plans?

Ruby: Yes. Despite a limited background in coding, my signature work is a combination of qualitative and quantitative research. This inspired me to explore how data can be interpreted statistically in the future. Therefore, I’m slowly transitioning to quantitative social science research. I’m currently applying for grad school regarding public policy and quantitative research methods, hoping to learn more about how data can be used to resolve real-world issues and gain valuable insights into addressing societal issues.