Estimating the Effects of Educational System Consolidation: The Case of China's Rural School Closure Initiative

Hannum, Emily, Xiaoying Liu, and Fan Wang. “Estimating the Effects of Educational System Consolidation: The Case of China’s Rural School Closure Initiative.” Economic Development and Cultural Change 70, no. 1 (October 1, 2021): 485–528. https://doi.org/10.1086/711654

70 Pages Posted: 16 Mar 2018 Last revised: 31 Mar 2022

See all articles by Emily Hannum

Emily Hannum

University of Pennsylvania

Xiaoying Liu

University of Pennsylvania

Fan Wang

University of Houston - Department of Economics

Date Written: October 1, 2021

Abstract

Global trends of fertility decline, population aging, and rural outmigration are creating pressures to consolidate school systems, with the rationale that economies of scale will enable higher quality education to be delivered in an efficient manner, despite longer travel distances for students. Yet, few studies have considered the implications of system consolidation for educational access and inequality, outside of the context of developed countries. We estimate the impact of educational infrastructure consolidation on educational attainment using the case of China's rural primary school closure policies in the early 2000s. We use data from a large household survey covering 728 villages in 7 provinces, and exploit variation in villages' year of school closure and children's ages at closure to identify the causal impact of school closure. For girls exposed to closure during their primary school ages, we find an average decrease of 0.60 years of schooling by 2011, when children were, on average, 17 years old. Negative effects strengthen with time since closure. For boys, there is no corresponding significant effect. Different effects by gender may be related to greater sensitivity of girls' enrollment to distance and greater responsiveness of boys' enrollment to quality.

Keywords: China, School Closure, Education Infrastructure, Rural Education

JEL Classification: I25, J16, O15, O18, R53

Suggested Citation

Hannum, Emily and Liu, Xiaoying and Wang, Fan, Estimating the Effects of Educational System Consolidation: The Case of China's Rural School Closure Initiative (October 1, 2021). Hannum, Emily, Xiaoying Liu, and Fan Wang. “Estimating the Effects of Educational System Consolidation: The Case of China’s Rural School Closure Initiative.” Economic Development and Cultural Change 70, no. 1 (October 1, 2021): 485–528. https://doi.org/10.1086/711654, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3140132 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3140132

Emily Hannum

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

PA
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.pop.upenn.edu/bio/emily-hannum

Xiaoying Liu

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

PA
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.pop.upenn.edu/bio/xiaoying-liu

Fan Wang (Contact Author)

University of Houston - Department of Economics ( email )

Houston, TX 77204-5882
United States

HOME PAGE: http://fanwangecon.github.io

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