This paper details efforts to implement a demographic and contraceptive surveillance system in four counties in North China. These counties are taking part in a large-scale field experiment involving the introduction of new contraceptives, greater choice in the use of contraceptives, and better training of family planning personnel. To evaluate the impact of these changes, a system of detailed, individual-level records are being kept in the 24 townships taking part in the project. We discuss the interaction between data collection and policy implementation - its general forms, its manifestations in modern China, and its relevance for the current project. We describe the system that we are implementing - what the old system looked like, and how we have tried to improve it. We evaluate the system's functioning over three years, based on field observations and preliminary data from one of the project's four counties. We conclude that there has been progress in the timely accumulation of standardized data; but there remains an antinomy whereby, past a point, an emphasis on data quality has the effect of sensitizing those responsible for recording data to the problematic nature of such data, thereby weakening accuracy. Many of the issues encountered in implementing the new system are relevant to the larger issues of (a) correct interpretation of data from China, and (b) creating a reasonable climate for change in the family planning system.
Population Research and Policy Review – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 29, 2004
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