Between the heavy exposure to western society, massive rural-to-urban migration, and the long-term impacts of a 1-child policy, China is struggling to address the future directions of its youth.
To help find solutions, researchers in the world's largest country have turned to Israel.
MJB, together with researchers from Bar Ilan University, are bringing Israeli expertise in applied social research to China as part of a multi-year international partnership to cooperate on research on youth and children. This project is supported by the Marshall Weinberg Fund for Professional Collaboration and Development.
The roots of this partnership lie in the Institute’s on-going involvement in the World Health Organization’s bi-annual survey of the well-being and risk behaviors of teenage children in over 30 countries.
The survey provides a snapshot of how Israeli youth are doing within a global context, and helps to identify important trends in their well-being. It also gives the Institute an opportunity to contribute to the international community, while bringing the international experience to bear on these issues in Israel.
In recent years, the Institute and Bar Ilan have worked with Prof. Huazen Zhou of the China Youth University for Political Sciences to integrate the Chinese into the WHO survey and to develop and implement the first-ever national survey of the well-being of Chinese youth.
The Chinese Delegation at the Entrance to the Institute, 2010
This past fall, a joint MJB- Bar Ilan University team visited Beijing for a professional exchange with CYU, as the next step in this partnership.
Part of the meetings was spent discussing the results of the Chinese survey data. Chinese youth demonstrated a number of strengths on key indicators, yet a number of concerns emerged from the findings. For example, there were significant concerns about the consequences of fierce academic competition among Chinese youth, the impact of the migration patterns on migrating children and those left behind, and the implications of the 1-child policy on child well-being.
The Chinese were excited about the opportunity to learn for the first time how their youth view the positive and negative aspects of their lives and about the possibility of using this new knowledge to address important policy concerns. They greatly appreciated the Institute’s ability to link them to an international study that provided such a broad comparative perspective.
Another important focus of the visit was the Institute’s experience in using applied research to inform social policies. The Chinese were fascinated by the example of the Institute’s role in shaping Israel’s National Project on Children and Youth at Risk. There were extensive discussions about how the Institute successfully links research to policy, and what the Chinese can learn from the Institute's experience in Israel.
The meetings laid a solid foundation for future work with our Chinese colleagues on using social research for policy development in China.
Looking ahead, the partnership is now focused on developing a national report on Chinese youth to be shared with the international community. Efforts are also under way to plan the next steps for building the Chinese capacity to apply the research findings to policymaking for youth and to develop an ongoing research program on youth.