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A study of the rate of return to higher engineering education in China


  • Fan, Jing-bo
  • Zhang, Cheng-gang


Engineering education comprises 1/3 of the higher education system in China. Currently, participation in engineering education among the educated classes is decreasing. According to the theory of human capital, the rate of return to education influences individual educational choices and student resources available at colleges and universities. Based on responses to the Chinese General Social Survey (CGSS 2003, 2008), descriptive statistics were used to explore the rate of return to higher engineering education in China, and models were developed to estimate the rates of return to education across different disciplines. Results revealed that the rate of return to higher engineering education in China in 2003 was 10.6%, whereas it was 14.7% in 2008. A ranking of the rates of return across higher education disciplines in China revealed that engineering was in an intermediate position, ranking 7th in 2003 and 6th in 2008. Gender differences were evident in the rates of return to engineering education in China, with high rates for males and low rates for females. Females’ return rates increased considerably from 2003 (9.7%) to 2008 (14.3), ranking 10th in 2003 and 3rd in 2008. Our results provide a better understanding of the effects of promoting China’s engineering education on human capital and the rationality of income distribution with regard to the labor market. These results have significant policy implications for educators and policy-makers.

Suggested Citation

  • Fan, Jing-bo & Zhang, Cheng-gang, 2015. "A study of the rate of return to higher engineering education in China," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 106-114.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:injoed:v:42:y:2015:i:c:p:106-114
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ijedudev.2015.04.010

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Lijia Guo & Jiashun Huang & You Zhang, 2019. "Education Development in China: Education Return, Quality, and Equity," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(13), pages 1-20, July.


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