Dorien is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Stanford Center on China's Economy and Institutions. She previously studied Sinology and Economics at KU Leuven. She considers her background in the non-disciplinary-specific study of the Chinese language and area as a perfect complement of the non-area-specific discipline of economics. She obtained a Doctoral Degree in Economics from LICOS — Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium. She wrote her PhD thesis on "The Experimental Economics of Parenting: Evidence from Rural China." After completing her PhD degree in early 2021, she held a position as an associate researcher and lecturer at the KU Leuven Chinese Studies Unit. Her research interests center around the economics of human capital formation and social mobility. She’s involved in the design and evaluation of field experiments evaluating the effectiveness and mechanisms of early childhood interventions in rural China.

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All Publications

  • Parental locus of control and early childhood development: Evidence on parent and grandparent caregivers in rural China CHINA ECONOMIC REVIEW Bai, Y., Emmers, D., Li, Y., Tang, L. 2022; 74
  • Parenting style and the cognitive development of preschool-aged children: Evidence from rural China. Journal of experimental child psychology Wang, L., Xian, Y., Dill, S., Fang, Z., Emmers, D., Zhang, S., Rozelle, S. 2022; 223: 105490


    The correlation between parenting style and child cognitive development has been widely documented in Western societies. There has been far less research, however, in non-Western societies and none at all in rural China. This study aimed to investigate the association between parenting style and child cognitive development in rural China. Participants were 1272 preschool-aged children and their primary caregivers. Children were 49 to 65months old (51% male), and all were ethnically Han. Primary caregivers reported their parenting style, and children were assessed on their cognitive skills. Two alternative approaches (two dimensions and four categories) were used to examine the correlation between parenting style and child cognitive development. The results show a positive correlation between an authoritative parenting style and child cognitive development and show a negative correlation between an authoritarian parenting style and development. When the mother is the primary caregiver, more educated, or from a wealthier family, she is more likely to use an authoritative parenting style and less likely to use an authoritarian one. In addition, the authoritative style has a stronger correlation with the cognitive developmental outcomes of girls than of boys. The findings encourage researchers to conduct future work on how to implement parenting training interventions that are able to ascertain whether parents in rural China can be taught to adopt an authoritative parenting style. Future research should also seek to identify whether an authoritative parenting style produces (in a causal manner) any significant long-term benefits to the cognitive development of children in rural China.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jecp.2022.105490

    View details for PubMedID 35792509

  • Early childhood development and parental training interventions in rural China: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ global health Emmers, D., Jiang, Q., Xue, H., Zhang, Y., Zhang, Y., Zhao, Y., Liu, B., Dill, S., Qian, Y., Warrinnier, N., Johnstone, H., Cai, J., Wang, X., Wang, L., Luo, R., Li, G., Xu, J., Liu, M., Huang, Y., Shan, W., Li, Z., Zhang, Y., Sylvia, S., Ma, Y., Medina, A., Rozelle, S. 2021; 6 (8)


    INTRODUCTION: Inadequate care during early childhood can lead to long-term deficits in skills. Parenting programmes that encourage investment in young children are a promising tool for improving early development outcomes and long-term opportunities in low-income and middle-income regions, such as rural China.METHODS: We conducted a systematic review and a meta-analysis to investigate the prevalence of early developmental delays and stimulating parenting practices as well as the effect of parental training programmes on child development outcomes in rural China. We obtained data in English from EconPapers, PubMed, PsycARTICLES, Cochrane Library, Web of Science and Scopus (Elsevier) and in Chinese from China National Knowledge Infrastructure, Wanfang Data and VIP Information. We conducted frequentist meta-analyses of aggregate data and estimated random-effects meta-regressions. Certainty of evidence was rated according to the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation approach.RESULTS: We identified 19 observational studies on the prevalence of developmental delays and stimulating parenting practices for children under 5 years of age (n=19 762) and ten studies on the impact of parental training programmes on early child development (n=13 766). Children's risk of cognitive, language and social-emotional delays in the rural study sites (covering 14 provinces mostly in Central and Western China) was 45%, 46%, and 36%, respectively. Parental training programmes had a positive impact on child cognition, language and social-emotional development.CONCLUSION: There is evidence to suggest that early developmental delay and the absence of stimulating parenting practices (ie, reading, storytelling and singing with children) may be prevalent across rural, low-income and middle-income regions in Central and Western China. Results support the effectiveness of parental training programmes to improve early development by encouraging parental engagement.TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: This study was registered with PROSPERO (CRD42020218852).

    View details for DOI 10.1136/bmjgh-2021-005578

    View details for PubMedID 34417271

  • Subsidies and agricultural productivity in the EU AGRICULTURAL ECONOMICS Garrone, M., Emmers, D., Lee, H., Olper, A., Swinnen, J. 2019; 50 (6): 803–17

    View details for DOI 10.1111/agec.12526

    View details for Web of Science ID 000493788100001

  • Jobs and agricultural policy: Impact of the common agricultural policy on EU agricultural employment FOOD POLICY Garrone, M., Emmers, D., Olper, A., Swinnen, J. 2019; 87
  • Using community health workers to deliver a scalable integrated parenting program in rural China: A cluster-randomized controlled trial. Social science & medicine (1982) Luo, R. n., Emmers, D. n., Warrinnier, N. n., Rozelle, S. n., Sylvia, S. n. 2019; 239: 112545


    Inadequate care during early childhood can lead to long-term deficits in skill development. Parenting programs are promising tools for improving parenting practices and opportunities for healthy development. We implemented a non-masked cluster-randomized controlled trial in rural China in order to assess the effectiveness of an integrated home-visitation program that includes both psychosocial stimulation and health promotion at fostering development and health outcomes of infants and toddlers in rural China. All 6-18 month-old children of two rural townships and their main caregiver were enrolled. Villages were stratified by township and randomly assigned to intervention or control. Specifically, in September 2015 we assigned 43 clusters to treatment (21 villages, 222 caregiver-child dyads) or control (22 villages, 227 caregiver-child dyads). In the intervention group, community health workers delivered education and training on how to provide young children with psychosocial stimulation and health care (henceforth psychosocial stimulation and health promotion) during bi-weekly home visits over the period of one year. The control group received no home visits. Primary outcomes include measures of child development (i.e. the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development, third edition-or Bayley-III) and health (i.e. measures of morbidity, nutrition, and growth). Secondary outcomes are measures of parenting practices. Intention-to-treat (ITT) effects show that the intervention led to an improvement of 0·24 standard deviations (SD) [95% CI 0·04 SD-0·44 SD] in cognitive development and to a reduction of 8·1 [95% CI 3·8-12·4] percentage points in the risk of diarrheal illness. In addition, we find positive effects on parenting practices mirroring these results. We conclude that an integrated psychosocial stimulation and health promotion program improves development and health outcomes of infants and toddlers (6-30 month-old children) in rural China. Because of low incremental costs of adding program components (that is, adding health promotion to psychosocial stimulation programs), integrated programs may be cost-effective.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.socscimed.2019.112545

    View details for PubMedID 31568997