Children Left Behind in China: The Role of School Fees
63 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2016 Last revised: 21 May 2020
Date Written: November 7, 2016
The barriers faced by Chinese rural-urban migrants to access social services, particularly education, in host cities could help explain why the majority of migrants choose to leave their children behind. This paper proposes a theoretical framework that allows for an explicit discussion of the link between school fees and the decision of migrant parents to bring their children to the city. The analysis instruments the endogenous school fees with unexpected shocks to the city's public education spending, and empirically tests the theoretical predictions. The findings suggest that higher fees deter migrant workers from bringing their children, especially their daughters; reduce the number of children they bring; and increase educational remittances to rural areas for the children left behind. Increases in school fees most affect vulnerable migrant workers, and are likely to have stronger impacts during an economic crisis. These findings hold for different model specifications and robustness checks.
Keywords: Economics of Education, Education Finance, Educational Sciences, Employment and Unemployment, Public Sector Economics, Public Financial Management, Public Finance Decentralization and Poverty Reduction, Access of Poor to Social Services, Disability, Economic Assistance, Services & Transfers to Poor
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