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How Does Education Affect the Earnings Distribution in Urban China?

  • Wang, Le

    ()

    (University of Alabama)

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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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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6173.

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Length: 51 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2011
Date of revision:
Publication status: published online in: Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, 2012, [Early View]
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6173
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  1. Schennach, Susanne M., 2008. "Quantile Regression With Mismeasured Covariates," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 24(04), pages 1010-1043, August.
  2. 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).
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  5. Henderson, Daniel J. & Polachek, Solomon & Wang, Le, 2011. "Heterogeneity in Schooling Rates of Return," IZA Discussion Papers 5662, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  15. 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.
  16. 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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  20. Omar Arias & Walter Sosa-Escudero & Kevin F. Hallock, 2001. "Individual heterogeneity in the returns to schooling: instrumental variables quantile regression using twins data," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 26(1), pages 7-40.
  21. 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.
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