Gansu Survey of Children and Families Papers

Document Type

Working Paper

Date of this Version



Zhang, Y. (2012). The Hopes Carry Them On: Early Educational Expectations and Later Educational Outcomes in Rural Gansu China (Working Paper). Gansu Survey of Children and Families.


It is commonly held in the education literature that parents’ and children’s educational expectations are important factors in predicting children's educational achievement and attainment. However, very little is known about the significance of parents’ and children’s early expectations in developing country settings. This study employs a case study of children in 100 rural villages in a poor province in Northwest China to explore the impact of parents’ and children’s early expectations on children’s later school persistence and completion of compulsory and secondary education. I pay special attention to the agreement and disagreement in early educational expectations between parents and children. Results from analyses of longitudinal data from the Gansu Survey of Children and Families (GSCF) from 2000 to 2009 reveal two main results. First, parents’ and children’s early expectations are strong predictors of children's chances of staying in school, completing compulsory education and completing secondary education. Second, there are substantial discrepancies in expectations between parents and children in many families, but children whose high expectations aligned with their parents’ fared best in later educational outcomes. This positive impact held even for children from the most impoverished families. Results also show that parents’ expectations are tied to the local village cultural environment.

Additional Files

The Hopes carry them on_figures.pdf (406 kB)



Date Posted: 26 September 2012