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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. Zhong Zhao, 2005. "Migration, Labor Market Flexibility, and Wage Determination in China: A Review," Labor and Demography 0507009, EconWPA.
  2. Millimet Daniel L & Wang Le, 2006. "A Distributional Analysis of the Gender Earnings Gap in Urban China," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-50, February.
  3. 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.
  4. Chernozhukov, Victor & Hansen, Christian & Jansson, Michael, 2007. "Inference approaches for instrumental variable quantile regression," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 95(2), pages 272-277, May.
  5. 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.
  6. Joshua Angrist & Victor Chernozhukov & Ivan Fernandez-Val, 2004. "Quantile Regression under Misspecification, with an Application to the U.S. Wage Structure," NBER Working Papers 10428, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Henderson, Daniel J. & Polachek, Solomon W. & Wang, Le, 2011. "Heterogeneity in schooling rates of return," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 1202-1214.
  8. Belton Fleisher & Xiaojun Wang & Haizheng Li & Shi Li, 2009. "Access to Higher Education and Inequality: The Chinese Experiment," Working Papers 09-02, Ohio State University, Department of Economics.
  9. John Gibson & Bonggeun Kim, 2007. "Measurement Error in Long-term Retrospective Recall Surveys Of Earnings," Working Papers in Economics 07/03, University of Waikato, Department of Economics.
  10. 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.
  11. DennisTao Yang & VivianWeijia Chen & Ryan Monarch, 2010. "Rising Wages: Has China Lost Its Global Labor Advantage?," Pacific Economic Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(4), pages 482-504, October.
  12. Chernozhukov, Victor & Hansen, Christian, 2008. "Instrumental variable quantile regression: A robust inference approach," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(1), pages 379-398, January.
  13. Fan, Shenggen & Kanbur, Ravi & Zhang, Xiaobo, 2008. "Regional Inequality In China: An Overview," Working Papers 51157, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  14. Harmon, Colm & Hogan, Vincent & Walker, Ian, 2001. "Dispersion in the Economic Return to Schooling," CEPR Discussion Papers 3037, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. Fleisher, Belton M. & Hu, Yifan & Li, Haizheng & Kim, Seonghoon, 2011. "Economic transition, higher education and worker productivity in China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(1), pages 86-94, January.
  16. Schennach, Susanne M., 2008. "Quantile Regression With Mismeasured Covariates," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 24(04), pages 1010-1043, August.
  17. 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.
  18. 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).
  19. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521608275 is not listed on IDEAS
  20. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521845731 is not listed on IDEAS
  21. Roger Koenker & Kevin F. Hallock, 2001. "Quantile Regression," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(4), pages 143-156, Fall.
  22. Patrinos, Harry Anthony & Ridao-Cano, Cris & Sakellariou, Chris, 2006. "Estimating the returns to education : accounting for heterogeneity in ability," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4040, The World Bank.
  23. Martins, Pedro S. & Pereira, Pedro T., 2004. "Does education reduce wage inequality? Quantile regression evidence from 16 countries," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 355-371, June.
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