Yingjie (Jessica) Fan is a Ford Dorsey Master’s in International Policy (MIP) student at Stanford University in the Class of 2019. She spent this past summer conducting policy research on healthcare disparities in rural China with FSI’s Rural Education Action Program (REAP). Funding is made available to MIP students for 10-week summer internships with organizations that work on international policy issues.
Where was your internship and what did you do?
This summer, I had the honor to work with the Rural Education Action Program (REAP) at FSI’s Center on Food Security and the Environment (FSE). My internship focused on data analysis and causal identification for gender differences in health-seeking behaviors among rural children in China.
Why did you want to spend your summer working there?
REAP operates at a scale unlike any other organization in China. They are at the cutting edge of impact research and evaluation for interventions that actually work. Once REAP demonstrates which interventions are effective and which ones are not, they share their results with the top-level decision-making bodies at China’s local, regional, and national government levels. Those policymakers can then take concrete steps to ensure successful strategies are picked up and implemented more broadly.
What did you end up doing with your time with REAP?
Using evidence from a randomized controlled experiment in Shaanxi and Gansu Provinces I was able to determine the effect of a program that provided subsidized eyeglasses to myopic children in rural China. My regressional analysis also revealed decreased, but sustained gender difference in health-seeking behaviors, with girls seeking and receiving less healthcare than boys, and pinpointed possible causes that aligned with the findings of previous literature: negligence of parents, lack of relevant information and introversion among girls. These findings suggest that a subsidy might be able to offset the cost of healthcare uptake, reducing the financial concerns that might prevent caregivers to seek-health for their children.
How did your experience contribute to your academic and professional development?
My learning experience at REAP was extraordinary firstly because of the faculty and post-doctoral fellows that I was able to work with, who consistently provided useful feedback on research methodology and framing of analytical perspectives. Furthermore, I had the opportunity to practice my data analysis skills by computing these analyses using Stata. The entire process was extremely helpful in terms of getting me more familiar with field experimentation, data analysis and academic paper writing. Having practiced these skills, I now feel more confident in conducting independent research in the fields of public policy and political science.