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The academic performance of primary school students from rural China: Distribution and correlates

Hongyan Liu (School of Economics, Northwest University of Political Science and Law, Xi’an, China)
Hao Xue (Center for Experimental Economics in Education, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi’an, China)
Yaojiang Shi (Center for Experimental Economics in Education, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi’an, China)
Scott Rozelle (Freeman Spogli Institute of International Studies, Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA)

China Agricultural Economic Review

ISSN: 1756-137X

Article publication date: 20 September 2018

Issue publication date: 3 June 2019

Abstract

Purpose

Low levels of human capital in rural China are rooted in the poor schooling outcomes of elementary school students. The purpose of this paper is to provide insight into the distribution of academic performance in rural China and identify vulnerable groups.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors draw on a data set of 25,892 observations constructed from 11 school-level surveys spanning nine provinces and one municipality in China conducted from 2013 to 2015.

Findings

The authors find that the distribution of academic performance is uneven across provinces and subgroups. In general, male students, Han, living in richer counties, living with their parents and studying in rural public schools do better academically than female students, non-Han, living in poorer counties, left behind and studying in private migrant schools in cities.

Research limitations/implications

Using the results of this study, policymakers should be able to better target investments into rural education focusing on at risk subpopulations.

Originality/value

With limited data sources, the research on the academic performance of students in rural China is largely absent. The findings of this study help to fill the gaps in the literature base.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge the support of the Gates Foundation’s Healthy Birth, Growth and Development (HBGDki), China Program, and the support of 111 Project from Ministry of Education of China (B16031).

Citation

Liu, H., Xue, H., Shi, Y. and Rozelle, S. (2019), "The academic performance of primary school students from rural China: Distribution and correlates", China Agricultural Economic Review, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 253-279. https://doi.org/10.1108/CAER-11-2016-0181

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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