IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Can reading programs improve reading skills and academic performance in rural China?


  • Gao, Qiufeng
  • Wang, Huan
  • Mo, Di
  • Shi, Yaojiang
  • Kenny, Kaleigh
  • Rozelle, Scott


In this paper, we attempt to evaluate the effectiveness of reading programs at improving the reading skills and academic achievement of primary school students in rural China. Using survey data on 4108 students, we find that students exhibited low levels of reading achievement, independent reading quantity, and reading confidence in the absence of any treatment. However, our results also suggest that properly designed treatments may improve the reading and academic outcomes of students. Specifically, we found that increased access to independent reading materials coupled with effective teacher training led to significant improvements in student reading skills, math test scores, and Chinese test scores. We believe that these improvements are due to changes in reading instruction and the attitudes of teachers toward reading. These findings indicate that encouraging higher reading quantity and providing high-quality reading instruction are important components for programs that seek to improve student outcomes in developing country settings.

Suggested Citation

  • Gao, Qiufeng & Wang, Huan & Mo, Di & Shi, Yaojiang & Kenny, Kaleigh & Rozelle, Scott, 2018. "Can reading programs improve reading skills and academic performance in rural China?," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 111-125.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:chieco:v:52:y:2018:i:c:p:111-125
    DOI: 10.1016/j.chieco.2018.07.001

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Linxiu Zhang & Hongmei Yi & Renfu Luo & Changfang Liu & Scott Rozelle, 2013. "The human capital roots of the middle income trap: the case of China," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 44(s1), pages 151-162, November.
    2. Evan Borkum & Fang He & Leigh L. Linden, 2012. "School Libraries and Language Skills in Indian Primary Schools: A Randomized Evaluation of the Akshara Library Program," Working Papers id:5041, eSocialSciences.
    3. Ama Baafra Abeberese & Todd J. Kumler & Leigh L. Linden, 2014. "Improving Reading Skills by Encouraging Children to Read in School:: A Randomized Evaluation of the Sa Aklat Sisikat Reading Program in the Philippines," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 49(3), pages 611-633.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    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:eee:chieco:v:52:y:2018:i:c:p:111-125. 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: (Dana Niculescu). 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.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with 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.