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Fewer, better pathways for all? Intersectional impacts of rural school consolidation in China's minority regions

Emily Hannum and Fan Wang ()

Papers from arXiv.org

Abstract: Primary school consolidation--the closure of small community schools or their mergers into larger, better-resourced schools--is emerging as a significant policy response to changing demographics in middle income countries with large rural populations. In China, large-scale consolidation took place in the early 21st century. Because officially-recognized minority populations disproportionately reside in rural and remote areas, minority students were among those at elevated risk of experiencing school consolidation. We analyze heterogeneous effects of consolidation on educational attainment and reported national language ability in China by exploiting variations in closure timing across villages and cohorts captured in a 2011 survey of provinces and autonomous regions with substantial minority populations. We consider heterogeneous treatment effects across groups defined at the intersections of minority status, gender, and community ethnic composition and socioeconomic status. Compared to villages with schools, villages whose schools had closed reported that the schools students now attended were better resourced, less likely to offer minority language of instruction, more likely to have Han teachers, farther away, and more likely to require boarding. Much more than Han youth, ethnic minority youth were negatively affected by closure, in terms of its impact on both educational attainment and written Mandarin facility. However, significant penalties accruing to minority youth occurred only in the poorest villages. Penalties were generally heavier for girls, but in the most ethnically segregated minority villages, boys from minority families were highly vulnerable to closure effects on attainment and written Mandarin facility. Results show that intersections of minority status, gender, and community characteristics can delineate significant heterogeneities in policy impacts.

Date: 2022-04
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cna and nep-ure
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Published in World Development 151 (March): 105734 (2022)

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