Estimating the Effects of Educational System Contraction: The Case of China's Rural School Closure Initiative
48 Pages Posted: 16 Mar 2018 Last revised: 21 Apr 2018
Date Written: April 13, 2018
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. The rationale for consolidation policies is that economies of scale will enable higher quality education, but distance to school increases for children in villages with school closures. We use data from a large household survey covering 728 villages in 7 provinces in China, and exploit variation in villages’ year of school closure and children’s ages at closure to identify the causal impact of school closure. For children exposed to closure during their primary school ages, we find an average decrease of 0.60 years of schooling for girls after age 15, but no significant effect for boys. Negative effects strengthen with time since closure. There is no evidence of a differential trend in educational attainment between individuals in villages with school closure and those in villages without, as indicated by an analysis using older cohorts beyond primary school age when closure occurred. 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
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