Heterogeneous determinants of educational achievement and inequality across urban China

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The People's Republic of China (PRC) has achieved significant improvements in educational attainment levels since the market-oriented reforms began almost four decades ago. However, there are still educational gaps among different groups and education inequality remains an issue. Addressing urban disparities remains a pertinent matter in optimizing China's transition towards a knowledge-driven economy. This paper investigates education inequality in urban China, using subgroup and regression-based decompositions of inequality of educational attainment, to evaluate whether the determinants to urban education inequality are similar within and across regions. Using the urban datasets from the China Household Income Project surveys for 2013, education inequality was measured for up to 100 cities from 14 provinces. The results reveal heterogeneity in educational attainment, education inequality, and the determinants of education inequality in urban China. Regression-based decompositions of education inequality revealed that the determinants of education inequality are not homogeneous between and within regions and provinces. While the type of middle school and National Higher Education Entrance Examination scores are predominantly among the largest contributors, the size and order of their contributions vary among different regions, provinces and age cohorts. Other major contributing factors varied from parents' occupation to parent's education and parental employment type. The results imply that since cities aren't homogeneous, therefore, they have different contributing factors towards education inequality. The results suggest that location-specific policy targets and priorities may produce more favorable outcomes in reducing education inequality.

Idioma originalAnglès
Pàgines (de-a)129-148
Nombre de pàgines20
RevistaChina Economic Review
Estat de la publicacióPublicada - d’oct. 2018


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