Document Type

Working Paper

Date of this Version



This working paper was published in a journal:

Hannum, Emliy and Fan Wang. 2022. "Fewer, Better Pathways for All? Intersectional Impacts of Rural School Consolidation in Chinaγçös Minority Regions." World Development 151:105734.


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, for both outcomes, 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 educational attainment and written Mandarin facility. Results show that intersections of minority status, gender, and community characteristics can delineate significant heterogeneities in policy impacts.


We gratefully acknowledge support from Penn’s University Research Foundation and School of Arts and Sciences Research Opportunity Grant Programs and from Grand Challenges Canada (PI: Jere Behrman). We also acknowledge support from Scholar Grant GS040-A-18 from the Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation for coverage of Wang’s time.


school closure and consolidation, rural education, minoritized populations, China



Date Posted: 31 March 2022