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Article
Publication date: 5 February 2018

Ai Yue, Bin Tang, Yaojiang Shi, Jingjing Tang, Guanminjia Shang, Alexis Medina and Scott Rozelle

The purpose of this paper is to describe the policy and trends in rural education in China over the past 40 years; and also discuss a number of challenges that are faced…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to describe the policy and trends in rural education in China over the past 40 years; and also discuss a number of challenges that are faced by China’s rural school system.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors use secondary data on policies and trends over the past 40 years for preschool, primary/junior high school, and high school.

Findings

The trends over the past 40 years in all areas of rural schooling have been continually upward and strong. While only a low share of rural children attended preschool in the 1980s, by 2014 more than 90 percent of rural children were attending. The biggest achievement in compulsory education is that the rise in the number of primary students that finish grade 6 and matriculate to junior high school. There also was a steep rise of those going to and completing high school. While the successes in upscaling rural education are absolutely unprecedented, there are still challenges.

Research limitations/implications

This is descriptive analysis and there is not causal link established between policies and rural schooling outcomes.

Practical implications

The authors illustrate one of the most rapid rises of rural education in history and match the achievements up with the policy efforts of the government. The authors also explore policy priorities that will be needed in the coming years to raise the quality of schooling.

Originality/value

This is the first paper that documents both the policies and the empirical trends of the success that China has created in building rural education from preschool to high school during the first 40 years of reform (1978-2018). The paper also documents – drawing on the literature and the own research – the achievements and challenges that China still face in the coming years, including issues of gender, urbanization, early childhood education and health and nutrition of students.

Details

China Agricultural Economic Review, vol. 10 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1756-137X

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Article
Publication date: 20 September 2018

Hongyan Liu, Hao Xue, Yaojiang Shi and Scott Rozelle

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…

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.

Details

China Agricultural Economic Review, vol. 11 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1756-137X

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Article
Publication date: 8 January 2021

Zixuan He, Xiangming Fang, Nathan Rose, Xiaodong Zheng and Scott Rozelle

To combat poverty in China's rural areas, Chinese government has established an unconditional cash transfer program known as the Rural Minimum Living Standard Guarantee…

Abstract

Purpose

To combat poverty in China's rural areas, Chinese government has established an unconditional cash transfer program known as the Rural Minimum Living Standard Guarantee (Rural Dibao) Program. Interestingly, despite the importance of education in breaking cycles of poverty, little is known about Rural Dibao's impact on rural children's education. This study investigates Rural Dibao's impact on rural children's learning outcomes by first examining targeting issues within the program, exploring a causal relationship between Rural Dibao and learning outcomes, and then exploring potential mechanisms and heterogeneous effects.

Design/methodology/approach

Fixed effects model and propensity score weighting method and data from China Family Panel Studies (CFPS) from the years 2010 and 2014 were used.

Findings

The results suggest that the Rural Dibao program suffers from high levels of targeting error, yet is still effective (i.e., program transfers generally still go to people in need). The fixed effects and propensity score weighting models find that program participation raises rural children's standardized test scores in CFPS Chinese-language and math tests. In investigating mechanisms, increased education expenditure seems to connect Rural Dibao participation to increased learning results. The heterogeneity analysis shows that poorer, non-eastern, not left behind, younger or male children benefit from the program (while others have no effect).

Originality/value

These findings suggest that Rural Dibao participation boosts rural children's learning, which could indicate a long-term anti-poverty effect, and that if the program can resolve targeting problems, this effect could be even greater.

Details

China Agricultural Economic Review, vol. 13 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1756-137X

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Article
Publication date: 29 October 2020

Renfu Luo, Qijia Lyu, Scott Rozelle and Shun Wang

This study aims to bridge the gaps in the existing literature by studying the links between children's development and the subjective well-being of the caregivers using…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to bridge the gaps in the existing literature by studying the links between children's development and the subjective well-being of the caregivers using first-hand data collected in rural China.

Design/methodology/approach

Although the broad array of literature has examined the effects of child development on the subjective well-being of caregivers, the relationship between early childhood development and caregiver subjective well-being has not been well-studied using sample families with potential developmental delay in rural China. Also, existing research has relied on maternal reports to evaluate the developmental status of children. The study used data collected from 32 townships in seven nationally designated poverty counties in the Qinling mountainous area in 2016. The authors measure child development using the social-emotional module of the Ages & Stages Questionnaire and Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development–Third Edition.

Findings

The authors find that child development indicators are correlated with caregiver subjective well-being. In particular, social-emotional skills are positively associated with life evaluations and positive emotion. However, we do not find any significant correlation between child development and negative emotion or depression, anxiety and stress scores.

Originality/value

The value of this study is to report the indicators of child development in rural China and examines the correlation between child development and caregivers' subjective well-being.

Details

China Agricultural Economic Review, vol. 13 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1756-137X

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Article
Publication date: 14 May 2020

Xiaoyun Liu and Scott Rozelle

Although China has instituted compulsory education through Grade 9, it is still unclear whether students are, in fact, staying in school. In this paper, the authors use a…

Abstract

Purpose

Although China has instituted compulsory education through Grade 9, it is still unclear whether students are, in fact, staying in school. In this paper, the authors use a multi-year (2003–2011) longitudinal survey data set on rural households in 102–130 villages across 30 provinces in China to examine the extent to which students still drop out of school prior to finishing compulsory education.

Design/methodology/approach

To examine the correlates of dropping out, the study uses ordinary least squares and multivariate probit models.

Findings

Dropout rate from junior high school was still high (14%) in 2011, even though it fell across the study period. There was heterogeneity in the measured dropout rate. There was great variation among different regions, and especially among different villages. In all, 10% of the sample villages showed extremely high rates during the study period and actually rose over time. Household characteristics associated with poverty and the opportunity cost of staying in school were significantly and negatively correlated with the completion of nine years of schooling.

Research limitations/implications

The findings of this study suggest that China needs to take additional steps to overcome the barriers keeping children from completing nine years of schooling if they hope to either achieve their goal of having all children complete nine years of school or extend compulsory schooling to the end of twelfth grade.

Originality/value

The authors seek to measure the prevalence of both compulsory education rates of dropouts and rates of completion in China. The study examines the correlates of dropping out at the lower secondary schooling level as a way of understanding what types of students (from what types of villages) are not complying with national schooling regulations. To overcome the methodological shortcomings of previous research on dropout in China, the study uses a nationally representative, longitudinal data set based on household surveys collected between 2003 and 2011.

Details

China Agricultural Economic Review, vol. 12 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1756-137X

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Article
Publication date: 2 May 2017

Ai Yue, Yaojiang Shi, Renfu Luo, Linxiu Zhang, Natalie Johnson, Scott Rozelle and Qiran Zhao

Although access to safe drinking water is one of the most important health-related infrastructure programs in the world, drinking water remains a large problem in China…

Abstract

Purpose

Although access to safe drinking water is one of the most important health-related infrastructure programs in the world, drinking water remains a large problem in China today, especially in rural areas. Despite increased government investment in water resource protection and management, there is still an absence of academic studies that are able to document what path the investment has taken and whether it has had any tangible impact. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the impact of drinking water investment on drinking water in China.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors make use of nationally representative data from 2005 and 2012 to measure the impact of drinking water investment among 2,028 rural households in 101 villages across five provinces. Both ordinary least squares regression and probit regression are used to analyze the correlates and the impact of drinking water investment.

Findings

The authors demonstrate that water quality was likely a significant problem in 2004 but that China’s investment into drinking water appears to have resulted in initial improvements during the study period. The authors show that the most significant change came about in terms of hardware: villages that received more drinking water investment now have more piped tap water and more access to water treatment infrastructure (disinfecting and filtering facilities). High rates of rural resident satisfaction with drinking water suggest the effects of drinking water investment are being felt at the village level.

Originality/value

To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first empirical study on drinking water investment over time in rural China using nationally representative data.

Details

China Agricultural Economic Review, vol. 9 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1756-137X

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Article
Publication date: 13 June 2019

Lei Wang, Yaojia Zheng, Guirong Li, Yanyan Li, Zhenni Fang, Cody Abbey and Scott Rozelle

China’s rapid pace of urbanization has resulted in millions of rural residents migrating from rural areas to urban areas for better job opportunities. Due to economic…

Abstract

Purpose

China’s rapid pace of urbanization has resulted in millions of rural residents migrating from rural areas to urban areas for better job opportunities. Due to economic pressures and the nature of China’s demographic policies, many of these migrants have been forced to leave their children with relatives – typically paternal grandparents – at home in the countryside. Thus, while income for most migrant families has risen, a major unintended consequence of this labor movement has been the emergence of a potentially vulnerable sub-population of left-behind children (LBCs). The purpose of this paper is to examine the impacts of parental migration on both the academic performance and mental health of LBCs.

Design/methodology/approach

Longitudinal data were drawn from three waves of a panel survey that followed the same students and their families – including their migration behavior (i.e. whether both parents, one parent, no parent migrated) – between 2015 and 2016. The survey covers more than 33,000 students in one province of central China. The authors apply a student fixed-effects model that controls for both observable and unobservable confounding variables to explicate the causal effects of parental migration on the academic and mental health outcomes for LBC. The authors also employ these methods to test whether these effects differ by the type of migration or by gender of the child.

Findings

The authors found no overall impact of parental migration on either academic performance or mental health of LBCs, regardless of the type of migration behavior. The authors did find, however, that when the authors examined heterogeneous effects by gender (which was possible due to the large sample size), parental migration resulted in significantly higher anxiety levels for left-behind girls. The results suggest that parental migration affects left-behind boys and girls differently and that policymakers should take a more tailored approach to addressing the problems faced by LBCs.

Originality/value

The main contributions of this paper come from the large and representative sample, as well as the causal effects analysis of being left-behind on both academic performance and mental health. First, the paper uses comprehensive panel data from a representative and populous province in China, and the sample size is the largest one among LBC-related papers to the authors’ knowledge. Second, the paper separately examines the causal effects on the student outcomes of different migration strategies. Third, the paper analyzes the heterogeneous effects of different migration strategies on LBC gender. The authors believe that the paper makes a key contribution to the literature.

Details

China Agricultural Economic Review, vol. 11 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1756-137X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 7 November 2016

Linxiu Zhang, Yaojiang Shi and Scott Rozelle

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Abstract

Details

China Agricultural Economic Review, vol. 8 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1756-137X

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Article
Publication date: 12 February 2021

Lili Li, Yue Ma, Dimitris Friesen, Zhonggen Zhang, Songqing Jin and Scott Rozelle

Internet use has become particularly prevalent among adolescents, prompting much thought and concern about both its potential benefits and adverse effects on adolescent…

Abstract

Purpose

Internet use has become particularly prevalent among adolescents, prompting much thought and concern about both its potential benefits and adverse effects on adolescent learning outcomes. Much of the empirical literature on the impact of Internet use on adolescent learning outcomes is mixed, and few studies examine the causal relationship between the two in rural China. In order to bridge these gaps, we use empirical analysis to investigate the effect of Internet use on the learning outcomes of adolescents in rural China.

Design/methodology/approach

We use fixed effect models with samples drawn from a large nationally representative dataset (the China Family Panel Studies—CFPS) to identify the causal impacts of Internet use on the learning outcomes of three cohorts (Cohort A (N = 540), Cohort B (N = 287) and Cohort C (N = 827)) of adolescents in rural China.

Findings

The results of the descriptive analysis show a continued increase in the number of adolescents accessing the Internet and the amount of time they spend online. The results of the fixed effect models show that Internet use has positive (in many of the analyses), but mostly insignificant impacts, on the learning outcomes of adolescents. In the sets of results that find significant associations between Internet use and learning outcomes, the measured effects are moderate.

Originality/value

This study investigates the causal relationship between Internet use and adolescent learning outcomes in rural China. The findings claim that there is not a great need to worry about adverse effects of Internet use on adolescent learning development. Attention, however, should focus on seeking ways to improve the positive effects of the Internet use on adolescent learning outcomes. The study will provide a reference and experience for the development of education and the Internet in rural areas and promote the integrated development of urban and rural areas in China.

Details

China Agricultural Economic Review, vol. 13 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1756-137X

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Article
Publication date: 7 November 2016

Aiqin Wang, Yaojiang Shi, Qiufeng Gao, Chengfang Liu, Linxiu Zhang, Natalie Johnson and Scott Rozelle

The purpose of this paper is to describe the trends in residential solid waste collection (RSWC) services in rural China over the past decade and analyze the determinants…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to describe the trends in residential solid waste collection (RSWC) services in rural China over the past decade and analyze the determinants of these services using nationally representative data.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors draw on panel data from three rounds of village-level surveys of 101 villages. The three surveys were conducted in 2005, 2008, and 2012 in five provinces. The authors used fixed-effected regression approach to analyze the determinants of these services.

Findings

The results show that in the aftermath of increased investment and policy attention at the national level, the proportion of villages providing RSWC services in rural China increased significantly from 1998 to 2011. However, half of all villages in rural China still did not provide RSWC services as of 2011. Based on econometrics analysis, the authors show that villages that are richer, more populous, and villages with more small hamlets are more likely to provide RSWC services.

Originality/value

The analyses are based on primary survey data and the first to quantify trends in waste management services in the beginning of the twentieth century. The authors believe that the results will have significant policy implications for China in its continuing quest for better waste management policy.

Details

China Agricultural Economic Review, vol. 8 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1756-137X

Keywords

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