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Access to Higher Education and Inequality: The Chinese Experiment

  • Wang, Xiaojun

    ()

    (University of Hawaii at Manoa)

  • Fleisher, Belton M.

    ()

    (Ohio State University)

  • Li, Haizheng

    ()

    (Georgia Tech)

  • Li, Shi

    ()

    (Beijing Normal University)

We apply a semi-parametric latent variable model to estimate selection and sorting effects on the evolution of private returns to schooling for college graduates during China’s reform between 1988 and 2002. We find that there were substantial sorting gains under the traditional system, but they have decreased drastically and become negligible in the most recent data. We take this as evidence of growing influence of private financial constraints on decisions to attend college as tuition costs have risen and the relative importance of government subsidies has declined. The main policy implication of our results is that labor and education reform without concomitant capital market reform and government support for the financially disadvantaged exacerbates increases in inequality inherent in elimination of the traditional “wage-grid”.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2823.

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Length: 45 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2007
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Economics of Education Review, 2014, 42, 78-92
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2823
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  1. Fleisher, Belton M. & Wang, Xiaojun, 2005. "Returns to schooling in China under planning and reform," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 265-277, June.
  2. Orazem, Peter F & Vodopivec, Milan, 1995. "Winners and Losers in Transition: Returns to Education, Experience, and Gender in Slovenia," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 9(2), pages 201-30, May.
  3. James J. Heckman & Sergio Urzua & Edward J. Vytlacil, 2006. "Understanding Instrumental Variables in Models with Essential Heterogeneity," NBER Working Papers 12574, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Knight, John B & Song, Lina, 1991. "The Determinants of Urban Income Inequality in China," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 53(2), pages 123-54, May.
  5. James Heckman & Hidehiko Ichimura & Jeffrey Smith & Petra Todd, 1998. "Characterizing Selection Bias Using Experimental Data," NBER Working Papers 6699, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Orley Ashenfelter & David J. Zimmerman, 1993. "Estimates of the Returns to Schooling From Sibling Data: Fathers, Sons and Brothers," NBER Working Papers 4491, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. 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.
  8. Yang, Dennis Tao, 2005. "Determinants of schooling returns during transition: Evidence from Chinese cities," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 244-264, June.
  9. Sangui Wang & Dwayne Benjamin & Loren Brandt & John Giles & Yingxing Li & Yun Li, 2007. "Inequality and Poverty in China during Reform," Working Papers PMMA 2007-07, PEP-PMMA.
  10. Münich, Daniel & Svejnar, Jan & Terrell, Katherine, 1999. "Returns to Human Capital Under the Communist Wage Grid and During the Transition to a Market Economy," CEPR Discussion Papers 2332, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Meng, Xin & Kidd, Michael P., 1997. "Labor Market Reform and the Changing Structure of Wage Determination in China's State Sector during the 1980s," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 403-421, December.
  12. Robert J. Willis & Sherwin Rosen, 1978. "Education and Self-Selection," NBER Working Papers 0249, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Fleisher, Belton M. & Peter, Klara Sabirianova & Wang, Xiaojun, 2004. "Returns to Skills and the Speed of Reforms: Evidence from Central and Eastern Europe, China, and Russia," IZA Discussion Papers 1182, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. Dennis Tao Yang, 1999. "Urban-Biased Policies and Rising Income Inequality in China," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 306-310, May.
  15. Meng, Xin & Gregory, R G, 2002. "The Impact of Interrupted Education on Subsequent Educational Attainment: A Cost of the Chinese Cultural Revolution," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 50(4), pages 935-59, July.
  16. Butcher, Kristin F & Case, Anne, 1994. "The Effect of Sibling Sex Composition on Women's Education and Earnings," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(3), pages 531-63, August.
  17. Fleisher, Belton M. & Chen, Jian, 1997. "The Coast-Noncoast Income Gap, Productivity, and Regional Economic Policy in China," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 220-236, October.
  18. Card, David, 1999. "The causal effect of education on earnings," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1801-1863 Elsevier.
  19. Jones, Derek C. & Ilayperuma Simon, Kosali, 2005. "Wage determination under plan and early transition: Bulgarian evidence using matched employer-employee data," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 227-243, June.
  20. Pedro Carneiro & James J. Heckman & Edward J. Vytlacil, 2010. "Estimating Marginal Returns to Education," NBER Working Papers 16474, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Carneiro, Pedro & Heckman, James J., 2002. "The Evidence on Credit Constraints in Post-Secondary Schooling," IZA Discussion Papers 518, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  22. Yang, Dennis Tao, 2002. "What has caused regional inequality in China?," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 331-334, December.
  23. Giles, John & Park, Albert & Wang, Meiyan, 2008. "The great proletarian cultural revolution, disruptions to education, and returns to schooling in urban China," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4729, The World Bank.
  24. Hannum, Emily & Wang, Meiyan, 2006. "Geography and educational inequality in China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 253-265.
  25. James J. Heckman & Edward J. Vytlacil, 2000. "Local Instrumental Variables," NBER Technical Working Papers 0252, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  26. 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.
  27. Brainerd, Elizabeth, 1998. "Winners and Losers in Russia's Economic Transition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(5), pages 1094-1116, December.
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