Trek Magazine - - Take Note -

Many peo­ple choose their spouse based on shared val­ues and in­ter­ests. But in China, an­other im­por­tant, rel­a­tively un­known fac­tor plays a role:

hukou, and it may be con­tribut­ing to grow­ing so­cioe­co­nomic dis­par­ity in the coun­try’s largest city, ac­cord­ing to a UBC study.

Hukou is a house­hold reg­is­tra­tion sys­tem in China that lim­its ac­cess to so­cial ben­e­fits largely based on the birth­place of the holder. The UBC-led so­ci­ol­ogy study ex­am­ined the ef­fect of hukou and ed­u­ca­tion on het­ero­sex­ual mar­riage pat­terns in China’s largest city, Shang­hai. Res­i­dents with Shang­hai hukou, for ex­am­ple, have bet­ter ac­cess to jobs, schools, hous­ing and other op­por­tu­ni­ties in that city com­pared to mi­grants, who are ef­fec­tively treated as sec­ond-class cit­i­zens. For mi­grants, ob­tain­ing Shang­hai hukou is chal­leng­ing and rarely suc­cess­ful. The re­searchers found that, in Shang­hai, lo­cal hukou shapes in­di­vid­ual mar­i­tal choices and is con­sid­ered a valu­able at­tribute in the mar­riage mar­ket.

“When we think about mar­riage, we of­ten think about love and ro­mance,” said Yue Qian, as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of so­ci­ol­ogy and the study’s lead au­thor. “But in re­al­ity, mar­riage choices are usu­ally fil­tered by other fac­tors. In this study, we found that hukou has a sig­nif­i­cant ef­fect.”

The re­searchers used data from a 2013 pop­u­la­tion sur­vey in Shang­hai that asked re­spon­dents who were born in the 1980s about their own and their spouses’ hukou and ed­u­ca­tion when they first got mar­ried. The sam­ple in­cluded 1,247 cou­ples. In cases of hukou in­ter­mar­riage – where one spouse has Shang­hai hukou and the other is a mi­grant – cou­ples were more likely to in­volve a Shang­hai hus­band and a mi­grant wife (14 per cent) than a Shang­hai wife and a mi­grant hus­band (six per cent), the re­searchers found.

Ed­u­ca­tion also proved to be an im­por­tant fac­tor in mar­i­tal de­ci­sions, with the prob­a­bil­ity of a mi­grant mar­ry­ing a spouse with Shang­hai hukou in­creas­ing with the mi­grant’s ed­u­ca­tion level. “It’s a bit of a trade­off,” said Qian. “If some­one with Shang­hai hukou mar­ries a mi­grant, then their mi­grant spouse needs to at least have the same or a higher ed­u­ca­tion level. Oth­er­wise, it seems they have noth­ing to gain eco­nom­i­cally from mar­riage.”

The find­ings are im­por­tant be­cause they re­veal how China’s hukou sys­tem is widen­ing re­source in­equal­ity be­tween mi­grants and lo­cals and be­tween the ed­u­cated and less ed­u­cated, said Qian. This is es­pe­cially true in Shang­hai where nearly half of the pop­u­la­tion is made up of mi­grants.

Qian is now study­ing Asian im­mi­grants to the US. Since hukou is sim­i­lar to cit­i­zen­ship sta­tus, she is in­ter­ested in see­ing if sim­i­lar mar­riage pat­terns emerge. The Shang­hai study was co-au­thored by Brown Univer­sity so­ci­ol­ogy pro­fes­sor Zhen­chao Qian.


UBC scientists have scanned the genome of cannabis plants to find the genes re­spon­si­ble for giv­ing var­i­ous strains their le­mony, skunky or earthy flavours, an im­por­tant step for the bud­ding le­gal cannabis in­dus­try.

“The goal is to de­velop well-de­fined and highly-re­pro­ducible cannabis va­ri­eties. This is sim­i­lar to the wine in­dus­try, which de­pends on de­fined va­ri­eties such as chardon­nay or mer­lot for high value prod­ucts,” said Jörg Bohlmann, a pro­fes­sor in the Michael Smith Lab­o­ra­to­ries and Fac­ulty of Forestry at UBC. “Our ge­nomics work can in­form breed­ers of com­mer­cial va­ri­eties, and which genes to pay at­ten­tion to for spe­cific flavour qual­i­ties.”

The re­search is part of an on­go­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Bohlmann, grad­u­ate stu­dent Ju­dith Booth, and Jonathan Page, an ad­junct pro­fes­sor in the botany de­part­ment who founded the cannabis test­ing and biotech­nol­ogy com­pany Anan­dia Labs.

They found about 30 ter­pene syn­thase genes that con­trib­ute to di­verse flavours in cannabis. This num­ber is com­pa­ra­ble to sim­i­lar genes that play a role in grapevine flavour for the wine in­dus­try. The genes the re­searchers dis­cov­ered play a role in pro­duc­ing nat­u­ral prod­ucts like limonene, myrcene, and pinene in the cannabis plants. These fra­grant mol­e­cules are gen­er­ally known in the in­dus­try as ter­penes.

“The limonene com­pound pro­duces a lemon-like fla­vor, and myrcene pro­duces the dank, earthy flavour char­ac­ter­is­tic of pur­ple kush,” says Booth.

They also found a gene that pro­duces the sig­na­ture ter­pene of cannabis, beta-caryophyl­lene, which in­ter­acts with cannabi­noid re­cep­tors in hu­man cells along with other ac­tive in­gre­di­ents in cannabis.

Bohlmann says the eco­nomic po­ten­tial of a reg­u­lated cannabis in­dus­try is huge, but a cur­rent chal­lenge is that grow­ers are work­ing with a crop that is not well stan­dard­ized and highly vari­able for its key nat­u­ral prod­uct pro­files.

“There is a need for high-qual­ity and con­sis­tent prod­ucts made from well-de­fined va­ri­eties.” he said.

The re­searchers say it will also be im­por­tant to ex­am­ine to what ex­tent ter­pene com­pounds might in­ter­act with the cannabi­noid com­pounds such as tetrahy­dro­cannabi­nol (THC) that con­fer the medic­i­nal prop­er­ties of cannabis.


In­ac­tive teens have weaker bones than those who are phys­i­cally ac­tive, ac­cord­ing to a new study.

Re­searchers at UBC and the Cen­tre for Hip Health and Mo­bil­ity at the Van­cou­ver Coastal Health Re­search In­sti­tute mea­sured the phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity and bone strength of 309 teenagers over a spe­cific four-year pe­riod that is cru­cial for life­long, healthy skele­tal devel­op­ment.

“We found that teens who are less ac­tive had weaker bones, and bone strength is crit­i­cal for prevent­ing frac­tures,” said Leigh Ga­bel, lead au­thor and PhD can­di­date in or­tho­pe­dics at UBC.

Ga­bel and her co-in­ves­ti­ga­tors used high res­o­lu­tion 3D X-ray im­ages to com­pare dif­fer­ences be­tween youth who met the daily rec­om­men­da­tion of 60 min­utes of mod­er­ate-to-vig­or­ous phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity per day and those who got less than 30 min­utes a day.

The four-year win­dow – be­tween the ages of 10 to 14 for girls and 12 to 16 for boys – is a vi­tal time when as much as 36 per cent of the hu­man skele­ton is formed and bone is par­tic­u­larly re­spon­sive to phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity.

“Kids who are sit­ting around are not load­ing their bones in ways that pro­mote bone strength,” said Ga­bel, which is why

weight-bear­ing ac­tiv­i­ties such as run­ning and jump­ing and sports like soccer, ul­ti­mate Fris­bee and bas­ket­ball are im­por­tant.

Bone strength is a com­bi­na­tion of bone size, den­sity and mi­croar­chi­tec­ture. While boys had larger and stronger bones through­out the study, both boys and girls re­sponded in the same way to phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity.

“We need school- and com­mu­nity-based ap­proaches that make it eas­ier for chil­dren and fam­i­lies to be more ac­tive,” said co-au­thor Heather McKay, a pro­fes­sor in or­tho­pe­dics and fam­ily prac­tice at UBC and the Cen­tre for Hip Health and Mo­bil­ity.

The good news is that ac­tiv­ity does not have to be struc­tured or or­ga­nized to be ef­fec­tive: short bursts such as danc­ing at home, play­ing tag at the park, chas­ing your dog or hop­ping and skip­ping count, too.

“The bot­tom line is that chil­dren and youth need to step away from their screens and move to build the foun­da­tion for life­long bone health,” said McKay.


Dairy cows housed in­doors want to break cur­few and roam free, sug­gests new UBC re­search.

The study mea­sured how much work dairy cows will do to ac­cess pas­ture, by push­ing on a weighted gate. It found the cows worked hard, es­pe­cially at night. As a com­par­i­son, the re­searchers also mea­sured how much weight the cows would push to ac­cess their reg­u­lar feed when kept in­doors, and dis­cov­ered that the cows worked just as hard to go out­side as they did to ac­cess fresh feed when they were hun­gry.

“Our find­ings show cows are highly mo­ti­vated to be out­side,” said Marina von Key­ser­lingk, the study’s lead au­thor and an an­i­mal wel­fare pro­fes­sor in UBC’s fac­ulty of land and food sys­tems.

von Key­ser­lingk said many dairy cows in Canada, the US and other parts of the world are housed ex­clu­sively in­doors. This may meet the cow’s ba­sic needs for food, wa­ter, hy­giene and shel­ter, but does not al­low the cow to en­gage in nat­u­ral be­haviours.

“Im­prov­ing the cow’s qual­ity of life is ob­vi­ously im­por­tant for the an­i­mal, but it’s also im­por­tant for the peo­ple in­volved, in­clud­ing the farm­ers that care for them and the con­sumers who buy dairy prod­ucts,” said co-au­thor and UBC an­i­mal wel­fare pro­fes­sor Dan Weary.

The re­searchers said their find­ings sup­port pre­vi­ous stud­ies that found pub­lic opin­ion of a good life for cattle in­volves ac­cess to out­door graz­ing.

Dan Weary and Marina von Key­ser­lingk. Photo: cour­tesy LFS Learn­ing Cen­tre

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