Document Type

Working Paper

Date of this Version



Definitive version published in: Chiang, Y., Hannum E., & Kao, G. (2012). Who Goes, Who Stays, and Who Studies? Gender, Migration, and Educational Decisions among Rural Youth in China. International Journal of Chinese Education, 1, 106-131.


Little is known about what affects the decision to migrate in China, despite the estimated 145 million rural migrants that reside in urban areas as of 2009. Drawing on a survey of youth from 100 villages in Gansu Province, we analyze migration and education decisions, with a focus on disparities associated with gender, sibship structure, and academic performance. Results show modest gender differences favoring boys in educational migration, but no gender differences in the overall likelihood of labor migration. Youth with older sisters are less likely to migrate, while youth with younger brothers are more likely to migrate. For girls, having older sisters is also negatively related to being a local or a migrant student, and better early academic performance is related to educational migration. For boys, labor migration may serve as a backup plan in the event of failing the high school entrance examination. Overall, results shed more light on the factors shaping educational migration than labor migration.


migration, education, rural, youth, China



Date Posted: 05 June 2013

This document has been peer reviewed.