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Changes in returns to education for off-farm wage employment: evidence from rural China

Weidong Wang (Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China) (University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China)
Yongqing Dong (College of Management and Economics, Tianjin University, Tianjin, China) (Center for Social Science Survey and Data, Tianjin University, Tianjin, China) (Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China) (University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China)
Renfu Luo (School of Advanced Agricultural Sciences, Peking University, Beijing, China)
Yunli Bai (Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China)
Linxiu Zhang (International Ecosystem Management Partnership, United Nations Environment Programme, Beijing, China) (Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China)

China Agricultural Economic Review

ISSN: 1756-137X

Article publication date: 27 July 2018

Issue publication date: 15 January 2019

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of education in the labor market and to understand how returns to education change over time in rural China.

Design/methodology/approach

Using nationally representative survey data from 2004 to 2015, this study provides insights on wage determination in the labor market and examines how the returns to education in rural China differ with time and educational endowment. This study applies ordinary least squares estimation and the Heckman selection model to estimate the returns to education.

Findings

The returns to education decreased during the observed years from more than 6 percent in 2004 to only about 3 percent in 2011, rising to nearly 4 percent in 2015. The overall trend is robust and observed within groups defined by education. Additionally, the returns to education vary greatly with educational endowment. Tertiary education has always maintained a high rate of returns at nearly 10 percent, while returns to senior high school education and below have gradually diminished.

Originality/value

The authors believe that the results will not only enrich studies on the returns to education in rural China, but also provide a basis for diagnosing the changes of rural labor market in the early twenty-first century.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge the financial support of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 71333012).

Citation

Wang, W., Dong, Y., Luo, R., Bai, Y. and Zhang, L. (2019), "Changes in returns to education for off-farm wage employment: evidence from rural China", China Agricultural Economic Review, Vol. 11 No. 1, pp. 2-19. https://doi.org/10.1108/CAER-05-2017-0098

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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