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Research on the Dynamics of Inequality of Educational Opportunity and It’s Relation with Income Distribution in Rural China

Author: YangQiMing
Tutor: LinJian
School: Zhejiang University
Course: Agricultural Economics and Management
Keywords: Educational Expansion Inequality of Educational Opportunity MutilevelLinear Model Sibling Correlation Coefficient NeighborhoodCorrelation Coefficient Inequality of Opportunity for Income
CLC: G521
Type: PhD thesis
Year: 2012
Downloads: 40
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Abstract


The education reform pursued by Chinese central government in1990s brought two distinctive characteristics into the education development during this period. The first was a significant increase in the societal opportunities for non-compulsive education, which was accomplished through quick and mass improvement in college enrollment and a substantial increase in the rate of high school entrance, with a most obviously sharp shift of the former from46.1%in1998to63.8%in1999. The second was the emergence of a distribution of educational opportunities which apparently not in favor of children from families disadvantaged in social and/or economic resources endowment. The cost of higher education increased quickly, and an employment system that featured "mutual choice and individual decision" was carried out on the output side, which resulted in so-called "employment difficulty" for college graduates, greatly increased the risk in the expected return from higher education for the disadvantaged groups.This dissertation will thus try to explore the following issues:what is the dynamics of the evolution in the inequality of educational opportunities in rural China, given the context of expanding college enrollment, increasing costs of education, and higher uncertainties in expected return from education, as well as escalated social differentiation in rural areas? What are the inter-relationships between this dynamics and the implementation of above-mentioned education policies? What are the key factors in family backgrounds that are relevant to the persistency of inequality in education, such as dropping out from junior middle school, in rural areas? A further issue is, what are the impacts of this restructuring of opportunity distribution on the dynamics of income distribution in the social-differentiating rural areas?The research presented here does not follow the traditional practices in existing literature, namely, the indirect inference of the impacts of relevant factors on the inequality in opportunities based on a regression analysis of education transition or education level. Alternatively, we adopted factor decomposition for inequality of opportunity based on sibling correlation and multilevel linear model. More specifically, I constructed a unique birth cohort dataset for post-70s and post-80s using longitudinal data from CHNS survey. Then common cohort-specific approach was used to identify the trends, based on mainstream statistical methods such as Intraclass Correlation coefficients, Multilevel Variance Component model, Multilevel Logistic Random Intercept mode, sibling correlation coefficients were combined with multilevel models to give decompositions of the inequality in opportunities, and provide an in-depth analysis into both the trends and mechanisms of the dynamics of inequality in education opportunities caused by differences in family background and neighborhood environment during this period, together with an exploration of the impacts of this dynamics on the evolution of inequalities in the income opportunities in rural areas. One of the advantages of above approach is that it enabled a direct evaluation of the contribution of background factors to the inequalities in education opportunities, rather than traditional indirect inference from its influence on education opportunity. It’s worth mentioning that the results confirmed that the later approach may provide conflicting conclusions.The dissertation goes as follows:following three chapters in introduction to the research, literature review and methodology, respectively, the fourth chapter identified the trends in overall inequality in education opportunity and its two components, namely, family effect and neighborhood effect; the fifth chapter provide both static and dynamic decomposition of the overall inequality in education opportunity and direct estimation of the contribution of observable family characteristics to this inequality and its evolution. The inequality factors which are still active till recently were also identified in this chapter. The sixth chapter brought the analysis into the dynamics of inequality for three subgroups in the sample, namely, the groups that "have finished compulsory education","have received non-compulsory education", and "have received higher education", and use family characteristics variables to offer indirect insights into the potential influences of family backgrounds on each subgroup’s inequality dynamics. The seventh chapter deals with a static and dynamic factor decomposition of sibling income correlation coefficients, using the matching information of family background during childhood and personal income. The emphasis was put on the intermediate effect of education between family background and personal income, as well as the relationship between distribution of education and inequality in income opportunity.The conclusion from empirical research can be summarized as follows:(1) Though the overall inequality of education opportunity in rural China is alleviated during this period, the downward trends were only observed at compulsory education level. While an upward trending in middle school education may be observed, an evidenced.increase in equality has been identified for the higher education level.(2) The impacts of various educational reform policies on inequality in education opportunity are diversified. Education expansion has a positive effect on lower level education opportunity, namely, the universal compulsory education policy and expansion in secondary education do have stimulated the equalization of relevant education opportunities. Unfortunately, the market-oriented reform in education charges and college graduates employment was found to be unfavorable for universalization of compulsory education and equalization of higher education.(3) The post80s generation in the sample are still constrained by inequality in education opportunity caused by father’s occupational status, family income, registered permanent residence, mother’s education length, and neighborhood environment. Among these factors, father’s occupational status has an enhancing effect on accomplishment of compulsory education and entrance rate to higher middle school (and secondary technical school), registered permanent residence can influence opportunity in higher middle school (and secondary technical school) and higher education, while mother’s education has prevalent impacts on education opportunity at all levels.(4) The inequality in income opportunity in rural areas witnessed a substantial increase during the sample period. Family income levels, registered residence and strengthening of ethical influence are part of the explanations. Education, however, has almost nothing to do with the intergenerational transmission of current family income or the formation of the income differences among various ethical groups, except for an indirect influence of registered residence on income opportunity through its impact on education opportunity.(5) The decrease of overall inequality in education opportunity brought with it a lower inequality in the distribution of education levels, but the distribution is still a positive factor in the aggravation of inequality in income opportunity. A possible explanation is that the impact of education inequality on income inequality was consolidated by an increase in education payoffs.(6) Whether mother gets a non-farm job when children were young has a significant positive effect on post-80s generation’s equal opportunity in income and education, which is different from other factors. Other than this positive effect, mother’s non-farm employment has a negative impact on children’s income when they’ve grown up. However, since this may have a stronger negative influence on children from an advantaged family, so it in effect may improve the equality in income opportunities.The dissertation offered several policy implications based on the above research, which should be of beneficial references to further eliminating the inequalities in education opportunity at all levels, as well as promoting social mobility in rural China.

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