Estimating the Effects of Educational System Contraction: The Case of China’s Rural School Closure Initiative

Emily Hannum , University of Pennsylvania
Xiaoying Liu, University of Pennsylvania
Fan Wang

Outmigration and fertility decline have created a challenge for many school systems serving poor rural communities in China: demographic scarcity. Large-scale consolidations were a prominent policy response in the early 2000s. We estimate the impact of rural primary school closures on educational attainment. 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. Different effects by gender may be related to the greater sensitivity of girls’ enrollment to distance and greater responsiveness of boys’ enrollment to quality.

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 Presented in Session 134. Education Outcomes in Low- and Middle-Income Countries