Theses Doctoral

Essays on Education, Political Movements and Income Growth in China

Feng, Na

This dissertation presents research on three topics relating to how education is linked to economic development in China. The data are obtained from the 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2013 Chinese General Social Survey (CGSS).
The first essay examines the consequences of the Cultural Revolution. Using the 2003 and 2006 CGSS, the research is able to identify participants in a specific initiative, the “up to the mountains and down to the villages” movement (referred to as the Sentdown Campaign) and the length of time that they were involved in the initiative. The econometric results--including OLS, Heckit and 2SLS methods--provide evidence of substantial negative and long-lasting effects of the Cultural Revolution on education, labor force participation and personal income. Those who were involved in the Sentdown Campaign were found to be able to recoup some of these losses through the accumulation of education after they came back from rural areas, but these were generally not enough to compensate for the overall disruptions the Cultural Revolution caused on them. Furthermore, those who were sent down and stayed for more than five years in the countryside were not able to recuperate any lost years of schooling and, instead, suffered bigger losses in income than any of the other groups discussed in this essay.
The second essay examines the attitudes of urban Chinese citizens towards migrants, as obtained using survey data from the 2005 CGSS. Estimating probit equations of the likelihood that the respondents in the sample had positive attitudes towards migrants, the research shows the connections between a range of explanatory variables and these attitudes. Educational attainment is not found to reduce negative attitudes towards migrants, a result that is different from the literature on the determinants of attitudes towards immigrants in recipient countries. The research also finds that as migrant presence grows in workplaces and neighborhoods, urban residents actually become more positive in their attitudes towards migrants. Gender is also found to have a significant impact on attitudes towards migrants. Men tend to have much more positive attitudes towards migrants, perhaps because social conventions frown against urban women having friendships with migrant men, or because the marriage market in urban China favors urban men marrying rural women.
The third essay examines the role played by human capital in accounting for income growth in China between 2003 and 2013. An Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition of the growth in individual hourly income shows that the overall role played by human capital on income growth in China during this decade is significant for men but not for women. For men, human capital accounts for 0.1796 in log-income change between 2003 and 2013, which given the total log-income change in this time period for men was 0.9160, represents close to 20 percent of the growth in income in the country. For women, the impact is small and actually negative, equal to -0.0433 out of the 0.8435 increase in log-income during the decade, a result that is mostly the outcome of declining rates of return to education among females.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Economics and Education
Thesis Advisors
Tsang, Mun C.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 6, 2016