Chinese Delegation Pays a Visit to U.Va. Demography Group

January 27, 2010 — As part of a nationwide initiative to improve and increase the use of population data in government planning and policymaking, China is examining practices in the United States, particularly those that incorporate census data. On Tuesday, their search for expertise on the topic led them to the University of Virginia's Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.

The Cooper Center's Demographics and Workforce group hosted a delegation of 25 professionals from the China Population and Development Research Center. The group included experts in demography, sociology, economics, statistics and public health, among others, and was led by Jiang Weipig, director general of the center.

The one-day visit to Charlottesville included official welcomes to the University by Cooper Center Director John Thomas and by Demographics and Workforce Group director Qian Cai. The group heard presentations from demographics professionals on topics including demographic data needs in the American federal system, developing public school enrollment projections and using census data to understand Virginia's aging population.

"We are honored to be identified as one of the premier places in the United States to understand how population data is incorporated into state and local decision and policymaking," Cai said. "China has a large, fast-changing and diverse population. We hope our practices will help the Chinese demographic professionals to better serve the central, provincial and local governments as they anticipate and respond to demographic changes and challenges."

The Cooper Center's Demographics and Workforce Group produces the official annual population estimates for the commonwealth of Virginia, which are used by state and local government agencies in revenue sharing, funding allocations, and planning and budgeting. Cooper Center demographers also work extensively with data and under special contract with the Census Bureau to improve census coverage of Virginia; and conduct contract research in areas as diverse as workforce supply of corrections officers, immigrants in Virginia and adult education needs.

The Chinese delegation also heard from Tom Guterbock, director of the Center for Survey Research, part of the Cooper Center, and toured the Lawn and Rotunda before concluding their day with a brief reception at the Colonnade Club.

"While we typically focus our public service on the commonwealth of Virginia, we welcome this opportunity to support China's efforts toward more informed government leadership," Thomas said. "The University is engaged with China in many ways that inure to our benefit and to China's. We are pleased to be part of these efforts."

The delegation from China will be in the United States for several weeks and, in addition to time spent at the Census Bureau, will visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and two other data research centers.