APARC Names 2022-23 Shorenstein and Asia Health Policy Postdoctoral Fellows

APARC Names 2022-23 Shorenstein and Asia Health Policy Postdoctoral Fellows

Political scientists Aidan Milliff and Jingkai He will join APARC as Shorenstein postdoctoral fellows on contemporary Asia, and economist Jianan Yang will join as our Asia Health Policy postdoctoral fellow for the 2022-23 academic year.
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APARC is pleased to announce the appointment of doctoral candidate in political science Aidan Milliff and doctoral candidate in government Jingkai He as our 2022-23 Shorenstein postdoctoral fellows on contemporary Asia, and of doctoral candidate in economics Jianan Yang as our 2022-23 Asia health policy fellow. They will begin their appointments at Stanford in autumn 2022.

The Shorenstein Postdoctoral Fellowship on Contemporary Asia supports recent doctoral graduates dedicated to research and writing on contemporary Asia, primarily in the areas of political, economic, or social change in the Asia-Pacific, or international relations in the region.

The Asia Health Policy Fellowship supports scholars undertaking original research on contemporary health or healthcare policy of high relevance to low- and middle-income countries in the Asia-Pacific region. 

Fellows develop their dissertations and other projects for publication, present their research, and participate in the intellectual life of APARC and Stanford at large. Our postdoctoral fellows often continue their careers at top universities and research organizations around the world and remain involved with research and publication activities at APARC.

Meet our new postdoctoral scholars:

Aidan Milliff

Research Project: In complex political violence scenarios, like inter-communal conflict in South Asia,​ what determines the strategies that people pursue to keep themselves safe?

Aidan Milliff is a Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a predoctoral fellow at the Institute for Security and Conflict Studies at George Washington University, and a 2021-2022 USIP/Minerva Peace and Security Scholar. Aidan’s research combines computational social science and qualitative tools to answer questions about the cognitive, emotional, and social forces that shape political violence, migration, post-violence politics, and the politics of South Asia.

His work appears or is forthcoming in journals and proceedings including AAAI, Journal of Peace Research, Political Behavior, as well as popular outlets including the Washington Post Monkey Cage Blog, War on the Rocks, and India’s Hindustan Times. Before MIT, Aidan was a James C. Gaither Junior Fellow in the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He holds a BA in political science and MA in international relations from the University of Chicago.

At APARC, Aidan will transform his dissertation project into a book manuscript, and extend his ongoing research on decision-making, political violence, and Indian politics. In his dissertation, Aidan develops a political psychology theory, situational appraisal theory, which focuses on variation in individual interpretations of violent environments to explain civilian behavior. He first uses situational appraisal theory to explain the behavior of Indian Sikhs who encountered violence in rural insurgency and urban pogroms during the 1980s. Pairing original interviews with a novel method for applying multilingual text classification algorithms and automated video-analysis tools to analyze an archive of hundreds of oral history videos, his reseearch shows that situational appraisals of control and predictability explain substantial variation in individuals’ choice of survival strategies when confronting violence. 

Jingkai He

Research Project: Why do authoritarian regimes vary in their ability to use state coercion to maintain a durable rule?

Jingkai He is currently a doctoral candidate in Government at Harvard University. His research interests include authoritarian regimes, political institutions, and the politics of state coercion, with a focus on China in comparative perspective.

He’s dissertation and book project, “Ordering Repression: Coercive Institutions and Strategies in Authoritarian Regimes,” asks why authoritarian regimes vary in their ability to prevent the recurrence and escalation of domestic social threats. Using comparative historical analysis and quantitative methods, He draws data from archives and field works in China and Mexico to examine the cross-time and cross-country variations in regimes’ choices of coercive institutions and strategies. His research findings highlight the difference between the military and the police in organizing state coercion and call attention to the learning processes through which regimes adapt their threat perception. He’s other works study the management of elites in authoritarian bureaucracies, uncover the logic of violence in state repression, and evaluate sources of political trust in authoritarian regimes.

At APARC, He will develop his dissertation into a book manuscript. He plans to expand the scope of his study to include additional Asian and Latin American regimes, as well as more contemporary cases of state coercion in China. He also plans to further research the social and political contexts in which authoritarian leaders choose and transform coercive institutions and strategies.

Jianan Yang

Research Project: What drives the sub-optimal healthcare-seeking behaviors in developing countries and how they can be improved?

Jianan Yang
Jianan Yang is currently a doctoral candidate in Economics at the University of California, San Diego. She holds B.A. in Economics and Mathematics from the Renmin University of China. Her research lies in the intersection of development and health economics and revolves around what drives the sub-optimal healthcare-seeking behaviors in developing countries and how they can be improved by leveraging price or non-price mechanisms.

Yang views health as a fundamental part of human development. People in developing countries usually face additional barriers to accessing healthcare resources because of underqualified providers on the one side, lower income levels, insufficient insurance coverages, and a lack of information on the other side. Because markets in healthcare settings are usually characterized by imperfect competition and government regulations, Yang thinks it is important to evaluate the policies’ impacts on various aspects of the healthcare system. Through understanding the underlying constraints, we can think about how the policy can be designed more efficiently.

Yang’s dissertation studied how patients’ chronic condition drug utilization responds to price reductions in China. By documenting a larger increase in utilization and a meaningful reduction in underuse among the uninsured, the study suggests that the price elasticities would be higher in developing countries and there will be larger welfare benefits from such price reductions resulting from squeezing out the price markups of the pharmaceutical companies due to market power. The finding suggests that cost is a barrier to both drug take-up and adherence, especially among the lower-income population who meanwhile are more likely to not have insurance coverage.

At APARC, Yang will further access the underlying factors affecting people’s healthcare-seeking behaviors including the role of cost, information, and behavioral bias. She will also extend her research agenda to the other sectors of the healthcare system.

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