Lijun Chen

Senior Researcher

Dr. Lijun Chen is a Senior Researcher at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago. His research interests focus on three areas: the development and general well-being of vulnerable children from disadvantaged backgrounds in developing countries, such as China; the experiences of children involved in the child welfare system in the U.S. and other developed countries; and evaluation of the performance of service providers and child welfare agencies in U.S. state child welfare systems. His current work includes a longitudinal study of child well-being in different domains in China based on a national family panel survey data and the predictive modeling of the probability of foster care placement after investigation and discharge from care for children in the child welfare systems of several U.S. states.

Chen is proficient in statistical modeling and analysis of longitudinal and survival data, and has worked with different survey and administrative data sets from China and the U.S. to understand the effects of personal attributes as well as contextual and policy factors on the well-being of children. Among the highlights of his prior work are a longitudinal study of NSCAW (National Survey of Child and Adolescent Wellbeing) survey data to examine the developmental trajectories of children involved in the child welfare system and a cross-national study of child disciplinary practices of parents in 30 nations, based on UNICEF’s Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS).

Chen holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of Chicago and Master of Arts in English Literature from Beijing Foreign Studies University. He has published in Social Service Review and Children and Youth Service Review.

Master of Arts in English Literature, Beijing Foreign Studies University
PhD in Sociology, University of Chicago

Chen, L. (2018, June). Family structure, parental absence, and child development. Presented at the Workshop on Child and Youth Development in China, University of Chicago Beijing Center, Beijing, China.

Chen, L. & Wulczyn, F. (2017, June). Developmental disparities between urban and rural children in China. Paper presented at the 6th Conference of the International Society for Child Indicators (ISCI), Montreal, Canada.

Chen, L. (2016, March). Findings of the report on the state of children in China. Paper presented at the Seminar on Child Well-being and Development in China, Beijing, China.

Wulczyn, F., & Chen L. (2008, November). Transition to school: The impact of child welfare services on school readiness. Paper presented at the 30th Annual Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) Fall Research Conference, Los Angeles, CA.

Chen, L., Yang, D. L., & Ren, Q. (2016). The state of children in China. Beijing, China: Social Sciences Academic Press.

Chen, L. & Yang, D. L. (2012). Old age care concerns and state-society relations in China: Public anxiety and state paternalism. Journal of Asian Public Policy 5(2), 136-154.

Wulczyn, F., Chen, L., Collins, L. & Ernest, M. (2011). The foster care baby boom revisited: what do the numbers tell us? Zero to Three, 31(3), 4-10.

Wulczyn, F., Chen, L., & Courtney, M. (2011). Family reunification in a social structural context. Children and Youth Services Review, 33(3), 424-430.

Fluke, J., Wulczyn, F., Casillas, K., Chen, L., & Cappa, C. (2010). Child disciplinary practices at home: Evidence from a range of low and middle-income countries. New York, NY: United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Division of Policy and Practice. Available at

Wulczyn, F. & Chen, L. (2010). Placement stability and movement trajectories. In Barth, R. & Fernandez E. (Eds.) How does foster care work? International evidence on outcomes (pp. 65-79). London, UK: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Wulczyn, F., Chen, L., & Orlebeke, B. (2009). Evaluating contract agency performance in achieving reunification. Children and Youth Services Review, 31(5), 506-512.

Wulczyn, F., Smithgall, C., & Chen, L. (2009). Child well-being: The intersection of schools and child welfare. Review of Research in Education, 33, 35-62.

Wulczyn, F., Chen, L., & Hislop, K.B. (2006). Adoption dynamics and the Adoption and Safe Families Act. Social Service Review, 80(4), 585-608.