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The Higher Educational Transformation of China and Its Global Implications

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  • Yao Amber Li
  • John Whalley
  • Shunming Zhang
  • Xiliang Zhao

Abstract

This paper documents the major transformation of higher education that has been underway in China since 1999 and evaluates its potential global impacts. Reflecting China's commitment to continued high growth through quality upgrading and the production of ideas and intellectual property as set out in both the 10th (2001-2005) and 11th (2006-2010) five-year plans, this transformation focuses on major new resource commitments to tertiary education and also embodies significant changes in organizational form. This focus on tertiary education differentiates the Chinese case from other countries who earlier at similar stages of development instead stressed primary and secondary education. The number of undergraduate and graduate students in China has been grown at approximately 30% per year since 1999, and the number of graduates at all levels of higher education in China has approximately quadrupled in the last 6 years. The size of entering classes of new students and total student enrollments have risen even faster, and have approximately quintupled. Prior to 1999 increases in these areas were much smaller. Much of the increased spending is focused on elite universities, and new academic contracts differ sharply from earlier ones with no tenure and annual publication quotas often used. All of these changes have already had large impacts on China's higher educational system and are beginning to be felt by the wider global educational structure. We suggest that even more major impacts will follow in the years to come and there are implications for global trade both directly in ideas, and in idea derived products. These changes, for now, seem relatively poorly documented in literature.

Suggested Citation

  • Yao Amber Li & John Whalley & Shunming Zhang & Xiliang Zhao, 2008. "The Higher Educational Transformation of China and Its Global Implications," NBER Working Papers 13849, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13849 Note: ED
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. John Whalley & Shunming Zhang, 2011. "A Numerical Simulation Analysis Of (Hukou) Labour Mobility Restrictions In China," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: China's Integration Into The World Economy, chapter 11, pages 295-324 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
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    6. Yaohui Zhao, 1997. "Labor Migration and Returns to Rural Education in China," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 79(4), pages 1278-1287.
    7. WHALLEY, John & XIN, Xian, 2010. "China's FDI and non-FDI economies and the sustainability of future high Chinese growth," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 123-135, March.
    8. Belton M. Fleisher & Haizheng Li & Shi Li & Xiaojun Wang, 2000. "Sorting, Selection, and Transformation of the Return to College Education In China," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series wp756, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
    9. Arrow, Kenneth J., 1973. "Higher education as a filter," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 193-216, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Harris, Richard G. & Robertson, Peter E., 2013. "Trade, wages and skill accumulation in the emerging giants," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2), pages 407-421.
    2. John Whalley & Xiliang Zhao, 2010. "The Contribution of Human Capital to China's Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 16592, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Li, Shi & Xing, Chunbing, 2010. "China's Higher Education Expansion and its Labor Market Consequences," IZA Discussion Papers 4974, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Zhang, Ying & Duysters, Geert, 2010. "Entrepreneurship Development and the Role of Economic Transition in Entrepreneurial Activities in China," MERIT Working Papers 036, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    5. Bhorat, Haroon & Cassim, Aalia & Hirsch, Alan, 2014. "Policy co-ordination and growth traps in a middle-income country setting: The case of South Africa," WIDER Working Paper Series 155, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    6. Li, Shi & Whalley, John & Xing, Chunbing, 2014. "China's higher education expansion and unemployment of college graduates," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 567-582.
    7. Hălăngescu, Constantin I., 2012. "Mundus academicus: arhitectura și adaptarea la fluxurile globalizării (I)
      [Mundus academicus: architecture and adaptation to globalization flows (I)]
      ," MPRA Paper 36839, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Yang, Guangliang, 2014. "Are all admission sub-tests created equal? — Evidence from a National Key University in China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 600-617.
    9. Simon Marginson, 2011. "Imagining the Global," Chapters,in: Handbook on Globalization and Higher Education, chapter 2 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    10. Chen, Juan, 2011. "Internal migration and health: Re-examining the healthy migrant phenomenon in China," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 72(8), pages 1294-1301, April.
    11. Xing, Chunbing & Li, Shi, 2012. "Residual wage inequality in urban China, 1995–2007," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 205-222.
    12. Bai, Chong-en & Chi, Wei, 2011. "Determinants of undergraduate GPAs in China: college entrance examination scores, high school achievement, and admission route," MPRA Paper 31240, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Jeffrey L. Furman, 2013. "The America COMPETES Acts: The Future of US Physical Science and Engineering Research?," Innovation Policy and the Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(1), pages 101-149.
    14. Bai, Chong-en & Chi, Wei & Qian, Xiaoye, 2014. "Do college entrance examination scores predict undergraduate GPAs? A tale of two universities," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 632-647.
    15. Zhu, Xi & Whalley, John & Zhao, Xiliang, 2014. "Intergenerational transfer, human capital and long-term growth in China under the one child policy," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 275-283.
    16. Yi Long & Chris Nyland & Russell Smyth, 2016. "Fiscal Decentralisation, the Knowledge Economy and School Teachers’ Wages in Urban China," Monash Economics Working Papers 13-16, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    17. Severian Vlăduț Iacob, 2015. "Entrepreneurship Support Of Economic Growth In China (I)," EcoForum, "Stefan cel Mare" University of Suceava, Romania, Faculty of Economics and Public Administration - Economy, Business Administration and Tourism Department., vol. 4(1), pages 1-10, January.
    18. Richard G. Harris & Peter E. Robertson & Jessica Y. Xu, 2011. "The International Effects of China’s Growth, Trade and Education Booms," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(10), pages 1703-1725, October.
    19. Wang, Le, 2012. "Economic transition and college premium in urban China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 238-252.
    20. Yitao Jiang & Xiaojun Shi & Shunming Zhang & Jingjing Ji, 2011. "The threshold effect of high-level human capital investment on China's urban-rural income gap," China Agricultural Economic Review, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 3(3), pages 297-320, September.
    21. repec:wsi:ceprxx:v:02:y:2013:i:01:n:s1793969013500015 is not listed on IDEAS
    22. Jeffrey L. Furman, 2012. "The America COMPETES Acts: The Future of U.S. Physical Science and Engineering Research?," NBER Chapters,in: Innovation Policy and the Economy, Volume 13, pages 101-149 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    23. Jaejoon Woo, 2012. "Technological Upgrading in China and India: What Do We Know?," OECD Development Centre Working Papers 308, OECD Publishing.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions

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