top of page


Kennedy Book Cover.jpg

Lost and Found:The "Missing Girls" in Rural China

Authors: John James Kennedy and Yaojiang Shi

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Year of Publication: 2019

In 1979, the Chinese government famously introduced The Single Child Policy to control population growth. Nearly 40 years later, the result is an estimated 20 million "missing girls" in the population from 1980-2010. In Lost and Found: the "Missing Girls" in Rural China, John James Kennedy and Yaojiang Shi focus on village-level implementation of the one-child policy and the level of mutual-noncompliance between officials and rural families. Through in-depth interviews with rural parents and local leaders, they reveal that many had strong incentives not to comply with the birth control policy because larger families meant increased labor and income. In this sober exploration of China's Single Child Policy throughout the reform period, the authors more broadly show how governance by grassroots cadres with greater local autonomy has affected China in the past and the challenges for resolving center-versus-locality contradictions in governance that lie ahead.

Purchase from Amazon

Purchase from Oxford University Press

Important Addendum to Book_August 2019

The "Missing" Debate: A Related Discussion Regarding the estimates of the "Missing Girls"

See Cai, Yong (2017) "Missing Girls or Hidden Girls? A Comment on Shi and Kennedy's "Delayed Registration and Identifying the 'Missing Girls'" China Quarterly

See Shi, Yaojiang and John James Kennedy (2017), "Missing Girls, Indirect Measures and Critical Assumptions: A Response to Cai Yong" China Quarterly 

Book Review from Perspectives on Politics, December 2019

Book Review from Journal of Chinese Political Science 2020

Book Review 找回“失踪的女孩”:人口普查中出生人口性别比失衡的政治解释

"Recovering the "missing girl": a political explanation for the imbalance of the sex ratio at birth in the census" SOC Theory (Sociological理论大缸) 2021

Articles (Selected)

John James Kennedy and Haruka Nagao, “The Rite to Vote: Community Interactions and Grassroots Voter Participation in China” forthcoming Journal of Chinese Political Science 2021.

John James Kennedy, Hongyan Liu and Haruka Nagao, “Voting and Values: Grassroots Elections in Rural and Urban China,” Politics and Governance, Vol. 6, No. 2 (2018):201-214

John James Kennedy and Chen Dan, “State Capacity and Cadre Mobilization in China: the Elasticity of Policy Implementation” Journal of Contemporary China, Vol. 27, No.111 (2018): 393-405. 

John James Kennedy with Shi Yaojiang, “Delayed Registration and Identifying the “Missing Girls” in China” China Quarterly, no. 228, (December, 2016)


          Cai, Yong. “Missing Girls or Hidden Girls? A Comment on Shi and Kennedy's “Delayed Registration and Identifying

          the ‘Missing Girls’ in China”. The China Quarterly, 231, (2017), 797-803.


          John James Kennedy with Shi Yaojiang, “Missing Girls, Indirect Measures and Critical Assumptions: A Response to

          Yong Cai's Comments.” The China Quarterly, 231, (2017), 804-810.

John James Kennedy, “Finance and Rural Governance: Centralization and Local Challenges” special issue on China rural studies in the Journal of Peasant Studies Volume 40, Number 6, 1 (2013), pp. 1009-1026

John James Kennedy, “What is the Color of a Non-Revolution? Why the Jasmine Revolution and Arab Spring Did Not Spread to China,” Special Issue on the Arab Spring, The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations, vol. 13, no. 1, (Winter/Spring 2012)

John James Kennedy, “The Price of Democracy: Vote Buying and Village Elections in China” Asian Politics and Policy, vol 2, no. 4 (2010)

John James Kennedy, “Supply and Support for Grassroots Political Reform in Rural China”, Journal of Chinese Political Science, vol. 16, no. 2 (2010)

John James Kennedy, “Legitimacy with Chinese Characteristics: ‘Two Increases, One Reduction’”, Journal of Contemporary China, vol.18, no. 60 (2009)

John James Kennedy, “State Capacity and Support for Village Institutions in Rural Shaanxi” China Information, vol. 23, no. 3, (November, 2009)

John James Kennedy, “Popular Support and the Rural and Urban Divide in China: The Influence of Education and the State-Controlled Media” Political Studies, vol. 57, no. 3, (October, 2009)

John James Kennedy, “International Education and Developing Countries: Research and Educational Collaboration in the Field” Journal of Political Science Education, vol. 3, no. 3, (Fall 2007)

John James Kennedy, “From the Fee-for-Tax Reform to the Abolition of Agricultural Taxes: The Impact on Township Governments in Northwest China” The China Quarterly, vol.189, (March 2007). This paper was also honored with the Gordon White Prize for the most original article published in the China Quarterly in 2007.

John James Kennedy, “Bygone Days and Ballot Boxes: Previous Democratic Experience and Current Village Elections in Rural Northwest China” Journal of Comparative Asian Development, vol. 5, no. 1, (Spring 2006)

John James Kennedy, Scott Rozelle and Yaojiang Shi, “Elected Leaders and Collective Land: Farmers Evaluation of Village Leaders Performance in Rural China” Journal of Chinese Political Science, vol. 9, no. 1 (Spring 2004)

史耀疆,高帆,任保平,John James Kennedy,“中国农村民主选举中的提名方

式及实施绩效分析,” (Analysis of policy implementation and the types of nominations in China’s village elections),《管理世界》(Management World),2004年, 第1期

John James Kennedy, “The Face of ‘Grassroots Democracy’: The Substantive Difference Between Real and Cosmetic Elections in Rural China.” Asian Survey, vol. 42, no. 3, (May/June 2002)

Book Chapters

John James Kennedy and Rigao Liu, “One Country, Many Paradigms”, in Shiping Hua ed. Paradigms Shifts in Chinese Studies, (Palgrave-Macmillan Press, forthcoming 2021)


John James Kennedy “Contained Emancipative Values: Waves of Conservative and Liberal Trends in China” Book Chapter in Ronald F Inglehart and Yang Zhong ed.  China as Number One? Evolution of Social and Political Values in China's Society (Routledge forthcoming 2021)


John James Kennedy, “Rural China: Politics and Policy” in William A. Joseph ed. Politics of China, (Oxford University Press, 3rd edition 2018)

John James Kennedy and Dan Chen, “Chapter 19: Local and Grassroots Governance” in Handbook on Contemporary China, Sage Publication, 2018

John James Kennedy with Chen, Dan, “Urbanization and Urban Villagers: Institutional Factors and Social Identity in Urban China,” in Edith W. Clowes and Shelly Bromberg editors, Area Studies in the Global Age (Northwestern University Press, 2016)

John James Kennedy with Jenna Mittelmeier, “Adapting Together: Chinese Student Experience and Acceptance at an American University,” In Jindal-Snape, D., Rienties, B., Eds. Multi-dimensional transitions of international students to higher education: New Perspectives on Learning and Instruction, (Routledge 2015)

John James Kennedy and Yaojiang Shi, “Rule by Virtue, the Mass Line Model and Cadre-Mass Relations” in Shiping Hua ed. East Asian Development Model: The 21st Century Perspectives (Routledge, 2015)

John James Kennedy and Dan Chen, “Election Reform from the Middle and at the Margins” in Jessica C. Teets and Bill Hurst edited, Local Governance Innovation in China: Governance Challenges, Adaptation, and Subnational Variation, (Routledge, London, 2014)

John James Kennedy and Yaojiang Shi, “Surveys and learning about village elections and rural China: an analysis of a 2005 national village election survey” in Björn Alpermann ed. Politics and Markets in Rural China (Routledge, 2011)

John James Kennedy, “Uneven Political Reform and Development in the Shadow of the Olympic Games,” in William M. Tsutsui and Michael Baskett ed. The East Asian Olympiads: Building Bodies and Nations in Japan, Korea, and China, Global Oriental Publishers (2011)

John James Kennedy, “Legitimacy with Chinese Characteristics: ‘Two Increases, One Reduction’” in Kevin O'Brien, Suisheng Zhao ed. Grassroots Elections in China, (Routledge, 2010) [Reprinted with permission from Journal of Contemporary China]

Mariya Y. Omelicheva and John James Kennedy, “Reform in China and Russia: A Comparative Perspective” in ISA International Studies Compendium Project, Wiley Blackwell Publishing (2010)

John James Kennedy, “The Implementation of Village Elections and Tax-for-Fee Reform in Rural Northwest China,” in Elizabeth J. Perry and Merle Goldman ed. Grassroots Political Reform in Contemporary China (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press,

Book Reviews

bottom of page