Xi Song is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Demography at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research uses statistical, demographic, and computational techniques to understand how patterns of social inequality are created and changed within and across generations. Her current topics of investigation include the gap between factual and perceived inequality, multigenerational social mobility and kinship inequality, the evolution of occupational structure, and statistical methods for characterizing the link between intra- and intergenerational mobility. She received the 2021 William Julius Wilson Early Career Award from the American Sociological Association. Her previous publications have received multiple awards from the American Sociological Association, the International Sociological Association, IPUMS, and the Demographic Research.
Ph.D. Sociology, University of California, Los Angeles, 2015
M.S. Statistics, University of California, Los Angeles, 2013
M.PHIL, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, 2010
B.A. Renmin University of China, 2008
Song’s major area of research centers on the origin of social inequality from a multigenerational perspective. Her research uses demographic, statistical, and computational tools to study the rise and fall of families in human populations across time and place. She has investigated long-term family and population changes by exploring the values of genealogical microdata. These data sources include historical data compiled from family pedigrees, population registers, administrative certificates, church records, and surname data; and modern longitudinal and cross-sectional data that follow a sample of respondents, their offspring, and descendants prospectively or ask respondents to report information about their family members and relatively retrospectively.
Her previous work has drawn on family genealogies from as many as sixteen generations of imperial and peasant families from 18th–20th century China to explore why families grow, decline, or even die out, and how they maintain, change, and reproduce their social statuses. Her recent work uses U.S. linked historical censuses and contemporary survey data from 1850 to 2015 to illustrate how macro-level social changes in fertility, mortality, and family structure, and micro-level patterns of families’ social mobility jointly lead to persistent inequality across generations.
Her methodological work focuses on developing demographic models based on life tables and Markov chains to predict family dynamics and kinship system in a population, identifying causal mediation mechanisms in social mobility processes, modelling intensive longitudinal data using dyadic and multivariate mixed effects models, and reconciling prospective and retrospective approaches to sociological studies.
Some of her ongoing work investigates the influence of political institutions on the media and public misperception of inequality against a backdrop of rising inequality around the globe. As part of this research, she measures inequality using “big data,” in the form of a colossal amount of text-based data from almost 400 traditional Chinese newspapers and magazines, new digital media outlets, and individual social media platforms from the early 2000s to the present. The project will show how rising inequality is perceived, publicized, and interpreted in both authoritarian and democratic societies wherein media and government practices are not independent, but rather the former is to varying degrees influenced by political power.
She received the 2021 William Julius Wilson Early Career Award from the American Sociological Association. Her previous publications have received multiple awards from the American Sociological Association, the International Sociological Association, IPUMS, and the Demographic Research.
SOCI 662/CRIM 662/DEMG 662 Panel Data Analysis
SOCI 612/DEMG 612 Categorical Data Analysis
SOCI 010 Social Stratification
Song, Xi and Hal Caswell. forthcoming. “The Role of Kinship in Racial Differences in Exposure to Unemployment.” Demography.
Xie, Yu, Hao Dong, Xiang Zhou, and Xi Song. 2022. “Trends in Social Mobility in Post-Revolution China.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 119(7): e2117471119.
Caswell, Hal and Xi Song. 2021. “Kinship Dynamics with Time-Varying Demographic Rates.” Demographic Research. 45(16):517–546.
Song, Xi. 2021. “Multigenerational Social Mobility: A Demographic Approach.” Sociological Methodology 51(1):1–43.
Song, Xi, Catherine G. Massey, Karen A. Rolf, Joseph P. Ferrie, Jonathan L. Rothbaum, and Yu Xie. 2020. “Long-Term Decline in Intergenerational Social Mobility in the United States, 1850–2015.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 117(1):251–258
Song, Xi and Robert D. Mare. 2019. Shared Lifetimes, Multigenerational Exposure, and Educational Mobility. Demography 56(3): 891—916.
Brand, Jennie E., Ravaris Moore, Xi Song, and Yu Xie. 2019. Parental Divorce Is Not Uniformly Negative for Children’s Educational Attainment. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 116(15): 7266—7271.
Brand, Jennie E., Ravaris Moore, Xi Song, and Yu Xie. 2019. Why Does Parental Divorce Lower Children’s Educational Attainment? A Causal Mediation Analysis. Sociological Science 6: 264–292.
Javis, Benjamin F. and Xi Song. 2017. Rising Intragenerational Occupational Mobility in the United States, 1969—2011. American Sociological Review 82(3): 568—599.
Song, Xi and Cameron D. Campbell. 2017. Genealogical Microdata and Their Significance for Social Science. Annual Review of Sociology 43: 75—99.
Song, Xi and Robert D. Mare. 2017. Short-Term and Long-Term Educational Mobility of Families: A Two-Sex Approach. Demography 54(1): 145—173.