Document Type

Working Paper

Date of this Version



This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published in the following journal:

Young, Natalie A.E. and Emily Hannum. 2018. "Childhood Inequality in China: Evidence from Recent Survey Data (2012–2014)." The China Quarterly 236:1063-1087.


In recent decades, China has transformed from a relatively egalitarian society to a highly unequal one. What are the implications of high levels of inequality for the lives of children? Drawing on two newly available, nationally representative datasets, the China Family Panel Studies and the China Education Panel Survey, we develop a comprehensive portrait of childhood inequality in post-reform China. Analyses reveal stark disparities between children from different socioeconomic backgrounds in family environments and in welfare outcomes, including physical health, psychosocial health, and educational performance. We argue that childhood inequality in China is driven not only by the deprivations of poverty, but also by the advantages of affluence, as high socioeconomic status children diverge from their middle and low socioeconomic status counterparts on various family environment and child welfare measures.


child welfare, socioeconomic inequality, family inequality, educational inequality, family investmentsm, family stress



Date Posted: 23 September 2020