Sources of Parenting Information in Rural China: A Mixed-Method Analysis

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Active parenting during the first few years of a child’s life can have significant benefits on child development and set the foundation for learning the skills required in a modern economy. China's rural children are lagging behind their urban counterparts partly because so many rural caregivers do not engage in positive parenting behaviors such as reading, singing, and playing with children when they are infants and toddlers.
This thesis contributes to the existing literature on child development in developing countries by examining sources of parenting information in rural China through case studies in southern Shaanxi province. It uses a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods to identify sources of parenting information for caregivers of infants and toddlers. The children in this study range in age from 6 months to 5 years old, as the paper utilizes samples from a study that began in 2013 as well as currently ongoing studies. The quantitative section analyzes the relationship between certain self-reported sources of parenting information and the number of positive parenting behaviors done. In the qualitative section, this paper also asks rural caregivers about the content of their primary information sources to explore what parenting suggestions caregivers are receiving and what specific parenting lessons caregivers actually retain.
This study suggests multiple ways to improve rural parenting. Encouraging more active parenting behavior through disseminating information on parenting is a low-cost way to improve rural child development outcomes starting from infancy. In addition to media programs better tailored toward encouraging positive parenting behaviors toward infants and toddlers, community-based resources of parenting information can help caregivers learn positive parenting behaviors through social interaction. More local involvement can also help foster a culture of positive parenting. Caregivers need information to help rural children compete in the modern Chinese economy and boost the overall economic well-being of Chinese society as its economy matures.
The author would like to acknowledge the support of Professor Scott Rozelle, the staff and colleagues at REAP and CEEE, and a generous Mentored Global Research Fellowship travel grant from FSI.


Type of resource text
Date created December 8, 2017


Author Seeley, Mengxi Li
Primary advisor Rozelle, Scott


Subject East Asian Studies
Subject Rural China
Subject Economic Development
Subject Parenting
Subject Mixed-Method
Subject Freeman Spogli Institute
Genre Thesis

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Seeley, Mengxi Li. (2017). Sources of Parenting Information in Rural China: A Mixed-Method Analysis. Stanford Digital Repository. Available at:


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