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How Does Education Affect the Earnings Distribution in Urban China?

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  • Le Wang
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Abstract

China's phenomenal growth is accompanied by both relatively low level of standards of living and high inequality. It is widely believe that investing in education could be an effective strategy to promote higher standards of living as well as to reduce inequality. However, little is known about whether this belief is empirically supported. To this end, we employ a recently developed distributional approach to estimate returns to education across the whole earnings distribution in urban China during economic transition. We find that returns to education are generally more pronounced for individuals in the lower tail of the earnings distribution than for those in the upper tail, in stark contrast to the results found in developed countries. Our result implies that education indeed reduces earnings inequality while increasing individuals' earnings. We also find that the returns to education are uniformly larger for women than for men across the distribution. The results suggest the presence of added effects of education on earnings, as opposed to productivity-enhancing effects, for disadvantaged groups. Finally, we find that rates of educational return increased over time for all parts of the earnings distribution.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Department of Economics, University of Oxford in its journal Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics.

Volume (Year): 75 (2013)
Issue (Month): 3 (06)
Pages: 435-454

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Handle: RePEc:bla:obuest:v:75:y:2013:i:3:p:435-454

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References

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  1. Colm Harmon & Vincent Hogan & Ian Walker, 2001. "Dispersion in the Economic Return to Schooling," Working Papers 200116, School Of Economics, University College Dublin.
  2. Schennach, Susanne M., 2008. "Quantile Regression With Mismeasured Covariates," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 24(04), pages 1010-1043, August.
  3. Chernozhukov, Victor & Hansen, Christian, 2008. "Instrumental variable quantile regression: A robust inference approach," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(1), pages 379-398, January.
  4. Koenker,Roger, 2005. "Quantile Regression," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521845731, April.
  5. John Gibson & Bonggeun Kim, 2007. "Measurement Error in Long-term Retrospective Recall Surveys Of Earnings," Working Papers in Economics 07/03, University of Waikato, Department of Economics.
  6. Zhong Zhao, 2005. "Migration, Labor Market Flexibility, and Wage Determination in China: A Review," Labor and Demography 0507009, EconWPA.
  7. Millimet Daniel L & Wang Le, 2006. "A Distributional Analysis of the Gender Earnings Gap in Urban China," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-50, February.
  8. Joshua Angrist & Victor Chernozhukov & Iván Fernández-Val, 2006. "Quantile Regression under Misspecification, with an Application to the U.S. Wage Structure," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(2), pages 539-563, 03.
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  10. Omar Arias & Kevin F. Hallock & Walter Sosa Escudero, 1999. "Individual Heterogeneity in the Returns to Schooling: Instrumental Variables Quantile Regression using Twins Data," Department of Economics, Working Papers 016, Departamento de Economía, Facultad de Ciencias Económicas, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.
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  12. Wang, Xiaojun & Fleisher, Belton M. & Li, Haizheng & Li, Shi, 2007. "Access to Higher Education and Inequality: The Chinese Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 2823, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. Fan, Shenggen & Kanbur, Ravi & Zhang, Xiaobo, 2008. "Regional Inequality In China: An Overview," Working Papers 51157, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  14. Fleisher, Belton M. & Wang, Xiaojun, 2004. "Skill differentials, return to schooling, and market segmentation in a transition economy: the case of Mainland China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 315-328, February.
  15. Fleisher, Belton M. & Hu, Yifan & Li, Haizheng & Kim, Seonghoon, 2011. "Economic transition, higher education and worker productivity in China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(1), pages 86-94, January.
  16. Patrinos, Harry Anthony & Ridao-Cano, Cris & Sakellariou, Chris, 2006. "Estimating the returns to education : accounting for heterogeneity in ability," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4040, The World Bank.
  17. Zhang, Junsen & Zhao, Yaohui & Park, Albert & Song, Xiaoqing, 2005. "Economic returns to schooling in urban China, 1988 to 2001," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 730-752, December.
  18. Henderson, Daniel J. & Polachek, Solomon W. & Wang, Le, 2011. "Heterogeneity in schooling rates of return," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 1202-1214.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Wenshu Gao & Russell Smyth, 2012. "Returns to Schooling in Urban China, 2001-2010: Evidence from Three Waves of the China Urban Labor Survey," Development Research Unit Working Paper Series 50-12, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  2. Vinod Mishra & Russell Smyth, 2012. "Returns to Schooling in Urban China: New Evidence Using Heteroskedasticity Restrictions to Obtain Identification Without Exclusion Restrictions," Development Research Unit Working Paper Series 33-12, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  3. Wang, Le, 2012. "Estimating Returns to Education when the IV Sample is Selective," IZA Discussion Papers 7103, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. James J. Heckman & Junjian Yi, 2012. "Human Capital, Economic Growth, and Inequality in China," NBER Working Papers 18100, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Simone Balestra & Uschi Backes-Gellner, 2013. "Heterogeneous Returns to Education Over Wage Distribution: Who Pro ts the Most?," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0091, University of Zurich, Institute for Strategy and Business Economics (ISU), revised Dec 2013.
  6. Sequeira, Tiago & Santos, Marcelo & Ferreira-Lopes, Alexandra, 2014. "Income Inequality, TFP, and Human Capital," MPRA Paper 55471, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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