Hannum, Emily

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Professor of Sociology and Education
Emily Hannum is Stanley I. Sheerr Term Professor in the Social Sciences and Professor of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is also Associate Dean for Social Sciences. She is affiliated with the Population Studies Center (https
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Now showing 1 - 10 of 31
  • Publication
    It's Not Just About the Money: Motivations for Youth Migration in Rural China
    (2013-02-18) Chiang, Yilin; Kao, Grace
    This study investigates the incentives for labor migration of youth in rural China using panel data from the Gansu Survey of Children and Families, a longitudinal study of youth in rural Gansu Province of China. We investigate the individual and altruistic economic motivations featured prominently in demographic and economic research on migration. However, we propose that the non-economic goal of personal development, a motivation suggested in numerous qualitative studies of women migrants in China and elsewhere, is also important, especially for young migrants. Analyzes indicate that, while young men and young women hold different motivations for migration, the desire for personal development is a common motivator for young migrants. Results suggest that non-economic incentives may play an important role in youth migration in rural China and that positioning in family structures shapes the susceptibility of individuals to migrate due to altruistic economic motivations.
  • Publication
    Estimating the Effects of Educational System Consolidation: The Case of China’s Rural School Closure Initiative
    (2021-10-01) Hannum, Emily; Liu, Xiaoying; Wang, Fan
    Global trends of fertility decline, population aging, and rural outmigration are creating pressures to consolidate school systems, with the rationale that economies of scale will enable higher quality education to be delivered in an efficient manner, despite longer travel distances for students. Yet, few studies have considered the implications of system consolidation for educational access and inequality, outside of the context of developed countries. We estimate the impact of educational infrastructure consolidation on educational attainment using the case of China’s rural primary school closure policies in the early 2000s. We use data from a large household survey covering 728 villages in 7 provinces, and exploit variation in villages’ year of school closure and children’s ages at closure to identify the causal impact of school closure. For girls exposed to closure during their primary school ages, we find an average decrease of 0.60 years of schooling by 2011, when children’s mean age was 17 years old. Negative effects strengthen with time since closure. For boys, there is no corresponding significant effect. Different effects by gender may be related to greater sensitivity of girls’ enrollment to distance and greater responsiveness of boys’ enrollment to quality.
  • Publication
    Keeping Teachers Happy: Job Satisfaction among Primary School Teachers in Rural Northwest China
    (2005-05-01) Sargent, Tanja
    Numerous empirical studies from developing countries have noted that parental education has a robust and positive effect on child learning, a result that is often attributed to more educated parents making greater investments in their children's human capital. However, the nature of any such investment has not been well understood. This study examines how parental education affects various parental investments in goods and time used in children's human capital production via an unusually detailed survey from rural China. It is found that more educated parents make greater educational investments in both goods and time and that these relationships are generally robust to a rich set of controls. Evidence suggests that making greater investments in both goods and time stems both from higher expected returns to education for children and from different preferences for education among more educated parents. A second key finding is that the marginal effect of mother's education on educational investments is generally larger than that of father's education.
  • Publication
    Ethnicity, Socioeconomic Status, and Social Welfare in China
    (2010-01-01) Hannum, Emily C.; Wang, Meiyan
    This chapter investigates poverty and social welfare among China’s minority groups. Focusing on the Zhuang, Manchu, Hui, Miao, and Uygur populations, China’s five largest minority groups, as well as other minorities in the aggregate, this chapter will begin by providing an introduction to the classification of ethnic groups in China. We consider the relationship of this classification scheme to the concept of indigenous populations, and develop working definitions of minority status and ethnic group for use in the chapter. We then discuss recent economic trends and introduce some of the main government policies targeted toward ethnic minorities. With this context established, we introduce the data employed in the chapter, namely the 2002 rural sample of the Chinese Household Income Project and recent censuses and surveys. We then proceed to the main body of the report. We present empirical evidence about demographics and geography and investigate ethnic disparities in poverty rates, income and employment, educational access and attainment, health care, and access to social programs. We close with a summary of main findings and their implications for development activities in minority areas and for further policy research on ethnic stratification.
  • Publication
    Editors’ introduction: Emerging issues for educational research in East Asia
    (2010-05-12) Hannum, Emily C.; Park, Hyunjoon; Goto Butler, Yuko
    In recent decades, globalization and regional integration have brought significant economic and demographic changes in East Asia, including rising economic inequality, growing population movements within and across borders, and the emergence or renewed geopolitical significance of cultural and linguistic minority populations. These trends have coincided with significant changes in family formation, dissolution, and structures. How have these changes played out in the diverse educational systems of East Asia? In what innovative ways are East Asian governments addressing the new demographic realities of their student populations? This volume offers a snapshot of key educational stratification issues in East Asian nations, and their evolution in conjunction with changing student populations. Scholars of Japan, China, and Korea in this volume address issues ranging from curricular adaptations to globalization, to persisting and new forms of educational stratification, to new multiculturalism in educational policy. In addition, authors consider the ways that migration is shaping education in the city-states of Hong Kong and Singapore. Collectively, the pieces in this volume represent a first attempt to investigate national responses to critical regional trends.
  • Publication
    Childhood Inequality in China
    (2018-07-01) Young, Natalie A. E.; Hannum, Emily
    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.
  • Publication
    Poverty, Food Insecurity and Nutritional Deprivation in Rural China: Implications for Children's Literacy Achievement
    (2012-03-08) Hannum, Emily C.; Liu, Jihong; Frongillo, Edward
    Globally, food insecurity is a significant contextual aspect of childhood. About 850 million people were undernourished worldwide during the period 2006 to 2008, including 129.6 million people, or 10 percent of the population, in China (FAO 2011:45‐46). Implications of food insecurity for children's schooling in developing country contexts are poorly understood. Analyses of a survey of children from 100 villages in northwest China show that long‐term undernourishment and food insecurity strike the poorest disproportionately, but not exclusively; long‐term undernourishment matters for literacy via early achievement; and, after adjusting for socioeconomic status, long‐term undernourishment, and prior achievement, food insecure children have significantly lower literacy scores.
  • Publication
    Short- and Long-Term Outcomes of the Left Behind in China: Education, Well-Being and Life Opportunities
    (2018-01-01) Hannum, Emily; Hu, Li-Chung; Shen, Wensong
    This report addresses the scope of China’s left-behind phenomenon and its roots in migration and education policies. It reviews evidence about disadvantages associated with left-behind status and discusses recent policy responses to the left-behind phenomenon. Empirical evidence is drawn from a national study of middle school students and a 15-year longitudinal case-study of children from rural Gansu, China. While a number of prior studies have shown mixed findings about the scale of educational disadvantage of left-behind children, compared to other groups, evidence presented here indicates that even after adjusting for school or community and household socioeconomic status, there are multiple domains in which homes of left-behind children are disadvantaged. They tend to live in households characterized by poorer health resources, cultural resources and social resources. By definition, they lose access, at least temporarily, to the “human capital” of their absent parents. Children in the short term thus experience more physiological, psychological, and (in the national comparison) educational disadvantages than their non-left-behind counterparts. In the long-term, our case study from Gansu Province suggests that father absence is associated with reduced educational attainment and possibly greater propensity to migrate, but not employment or long-term family relations. Overall, disadvantages appear to be more consistent and more generalized for mother-absent and dual-parent-absent families than for father-absent families. We discuss policy responses, and possible policy strategies, in the closing segment of the report. Policy reforms that obviate the need for children to be left behind are one evident solution to the problem, and some steps appear to be happening in this direction, but local resistance may be substantial. More immediately, boarding schools and community centers are commonly-proposed policy solutions to address the immediate needs of left-behind children, with promise but some clear pitfalls. Other possible supports are discussed.
  • Publication
    Sociological Perspectives on Ethnicity and Education in China: Views from Chinese and English Literatures
    (2013-04-17) Cherng, Hua-Yu Sebastian; Lu, Chunping
    This paper reviews Chinese- and English-language literature on ethnic minorities and education in China. Six major research topics emerge from the Chinese-language research: (1) Marxism and ethnic minority education; (2) patriotism and national unity in education for ethnic minority students; (3) multicultural education; (4) determinants of ethnic differences in education; (5) school facilities and teacher quality; and (6) preferential / affirmative action policies. Four research themes are identified from the English-language literature: (1) policy overviews; (2) education and ethnic identity; (3) incentives and disincentives for buy-in to the education system; and (4) educational stratification. The majority of quantitative research from both Chinese- and English-language literature investigates ethnic minorities as a collective group. Qualitative research focuses on individual ethnic groups, although no one group is the focus of particular attention. More qualitative studies currently exist, but the number of quantitative studies is growing, given the growing availability of survey and census data containing information on ethnic minorities. Both literatures focus on the complex interrelationships of ethnicity with cultural, policy, development, and language issues. Yet, these literatures draw on different ideological starting points, conform to different norms of academic composition, and speak to different audiences in different sociopolitical contexts. For these reasons, the English literature tends to adopt a more critical tone. Overall, very little of the work in either language comes from the field of sociology of education. More comparatively and theoretically framed work is needed to enable the Chinese experience to be informed by and inform global research in sociology of education.
  • Publication
    Fewer, Better Pathways For All? Intersectional Impacts of Rural School Consolidation in China’s Minority Regions
    (2022-03-01) Hannum, Emily; Wang, Fan
    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.