I am an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Hong Kong (2019-present). I also held joint appointments at the Department of Geography and the Faculty of Arts from 2019 to 2023. Before joining HKU, I was a Research Assistant Professor of Social Science and a Junior Fellow of Institute for Advanced Study at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (2017-2019).
My research interests center on social stratification and inequality, and lie at the intersection of urban sociology, sociology of education, and sociology of work. In particular, I am interested in understanding:
how social-spatial factors (e.g. migration, segregation, location) shape urban residents' attitudes, behaviors, and life chances;
the impacts of various family, school and neighborhood factors on children’s educational and developmental outcomes;
young people’s experiences of school-to-work transition, precarious employment and labour market mismatch.
My studies are mainly concerned with child development and youth employment issues in Chinese cities (e.g. Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing), and I draw on various longitudinal survey datasets and a range of quantitative methods for causal inference. Currently, I am working on multiple research projects, including:
Skill Requirements of Job Ads during an Economic Recession in Hong Kong: A Machine Learning Approach to Studying Labour Market Mismatch
Educational Expansion, College Premium and Social Mobility: A Comparative Study of Hong Kong and Taiwan Youth (funded by RGC-ECS)
Socioeconomic Segregation, School Choice, and Geography of Educational Inequality in Hong Kong (funded by RGC-GRF)
Our new paper is out in Chinese Sociological Review, examining the effects of diverse childcare combinations on women’s labor supply from a life course perspective. Turns out that domestic workers, rather than grandparents or kindergartens, are the lifesavers for mothers of young children in Hong Kong!
In this academic year, I will be teaching SOCI6003 Research seminars for postgraduate students.
I am serving on the 13th Council of Hong Kong Sociological Association (HKSA) as the Vice President (2022-2024). Check out our new website!
My PhD student, Jiao Guo, and I recently published a paper in British Journal of Sociology, focusing on the spatial dimension of urban protests and its attitudinal consequences.
Based on the same dataset (i.e. HKPSSD), my co-authors and I have another forthcoming paper in Work, Employment, and Society, examining young people's entry into precarious employment during economic crises and the long-term scarring effect of first job precarity.
I am serving as a Guest Editor of Chinese Sociological Review for a Special Issue on education and inequality in Chinese societies, together with Anning Hu and Angran Li.
See below for a list of my publications by research area.
*: Xu is corresponding author
#: post-doc/graduate student coauthor
Main interest: how social-spatial factors (e.g. migration, segregation, location) shape urban residents' attitudes, behaviors, and life chances.