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Political connections and higher education: Evidence from China's economic liberalization

Maiting Zhuang

The Economics of Transition, 2019, vol. 27, issue 1, 67-97

Abstract: Do political connections affect investment in human capital? This paper studies the higher education decisions of politically connected and unconnected students during China's economic transition. Using the sequential introduction of reforms, I show that economic liberalization increased tertiary educational attainment, as well as sorting of students into different degree types depending on family background. Students whose parents were members of the Chinese Communist Party selected into relatively less prestigious vocational colleges with lower admissions standards. In contrast, politically unconnected individuals responded to the higher skill premium following the reforms by studying harder to obtain more demanding and sought‐after university degrees.

Date: 2019
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