IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

The Paradox of Educational Fairness in China


  • Wanhua Peng

    (Shihezi University
    Graduate School, Peking University)

  • Xiaobin Peng

    (Office of Informatization, Peking University)

  • Kaiping Peng

    (Department of Psychology, University of California
    Department of Psychology, Tsinghua University)


Neoclassical economics is founded on a narrow notion of the rational human being, with self-interest and material well-being as the basis of judgment and decision making. This stands in stark contrast to long held views, in philosophy and psychology, that maintain that human reason is motivated in part by emotions and, in particular, by social comparison. The social psychologist Festinger found that much judgment and decision making are the results of social comparison which may or may not reflect the actual reality of individuals. We tested Festinger¡¯s notion in Chinese cultural contexts by investigating public discussions of educational fairness. We found that while educational spending has been increasing steadily, sentiments about educational fairness have been deteriorating. Time series analysis shows that these phenomena were not due to price inflation, availability of opinion outlets, or regional difference, but to the psychological process of social comparison. The implications of such a paradox are discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Wanhua Peng & Xiaobin Peng & Kaiping Peng, 2009. "The Paradox of Educational Fairness in China," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 10(1), pages 199-213, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:cuf:journl:y:2009:v:10:i:1:p:199-213

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Qian Yang & Kaiping Peng & Xueya Zhou & Ruoqiao Zheng & Wanhua Peng, 2013. "The Monetary Effect of Power: How Perception of Power Affects Monetary Value Judgments in China and US," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 14(1), pages 69-83, May.
    2. Yubo Hou & Ge Gao & Fei Wang & Tingrui Li & Zhilan Yu, 2011. "Organizational Commitment and Creativity: the Influence of Thinking Styles," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 12(2), pages 411-431, November.
    3. Wanhua Peng & Kaiping Peng, 2010. "Ethnic Stereotypes and Economic Discrepancy: The Illusion of Differences between Han and Uyghur Chinese," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 11(2), pages 381-397, November.
    4. repec:cuf:journl:y:2013:v:14:i:1:n:5:yang is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Educational spending; Educational fairness; Social comparison; Paradox;

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • J78 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Public Policy (including comparable worth)


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cuf:journl:y:2009:v:10:i:1:p:199-213. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Qiang Gao). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.