Gansu Survey of Children and Families

The Gansu Survey of Children and Families (GSCF) is a longitudinal, multi-level study of rural children's welfare outcomes, including education, health, and psycho-social development. The study focuses on the following issues:

  • Children's academic achievement, educational attitudes, behaviors, and experiences, psycho-social development, and physical health.
  • Attitudes and practices of children, families, and teachers about parenting and schooling.
  • The mechanisms (home, community, school) linking poverty to children's welfare outcomes.
  • Rural children's human capital acquisition and subsequent labor outcomes.

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Now showing 1 - 10 of 70
  • Publication
    "Old Man Moves a Mountain": Rural Parents' Involvement in their Children's Schooling
    (2008-01-01) Kong, P.
    In China, policies and programs are currently being implemented to improve parent-school relationships. However, until this thesis, there has been little research conducted in rural China on the impact of parental involvement on their children's education. In this thesis. I use a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods to investigate the nature of parental involvement in primary children's schooling in rural China. My study adds to the growing body of research that suggests that people in different cultures are involved in their children's schooling in different ways. I found that parents in rural China desired educational success for their children. They regarded education as a means to their children's gaining social mobility. However, few rural parents engaged in visible forms of parental involvement in their children's schools, such as attending parent-teacher meetings. Rural parents in my sample were caring, supportive, and had invisible ways of supporting their children's education. Their level of commitment to their children's schooling could be seen in the sacrifices they made, such as working at additional jobs or taking on additional household work so that their children could be free of household chores. Many rural parents sacrificed their free time in order to support their children's schooling. They also purchased schooling materials for their children, so that their children could enjoy a more positive schooling environment. In order to provide their children with better schooling opportunities, several families migrated to areas with better schooling conditions.
  • Publication
    Aspirations and Schooling: Analysis of the formation and intra-household impact of educational aspirations in rural China
    (2009-06-03) Meng, Joyce
    Conventional household decision-making models exclude children as participatory agents with bargaining power, even though as the child ages and transitions into adulthood, he or she exerts more control over many decisions affecting his or her life, even in tradition-bound societies. In decisions regarding school enrollment and continuation, the preferences of young people remain an important, yet under-explored factor. Especially in a developing country context, few economics studies have attempted to explore the connection between extrinsic socioeconomic variables and the formation of intrinsic educational aspirations, with the latter influencing educational outcomes. This study is the first to investigate whose aspirations matter in education within the household, and how factors such as income, wealth, and child age affect the relative importance of these aspirations, a proxy for decision-making power. Using longitudinal survey data from rural China, this paper first explores the determinants of parent and child aspirations for schooling, and then investigates the different factors that affect the relative importance attributed to parent and child schooling preferences on school continuation. The five main results of the study are: (1) Aspirations for children are lower than parental aspirations, and correspond more strongly to measures of ability, while gender and wealth were not significant. In contrast, wealth is a significant positive predictor for mother and father aspirations, and mothers have lower aspirations for female than male children. (2) Higher children’s aspirations are significant predictors of staying in school, even after controlling for ability, socioeconomic, and demographic variables, and are more important than parental aspirations. (3) Mother’s aspirations are strongly correlated with children’s aspirations, but do not influence school continuation. In contrast, father’s aspirations do not predict children’s aspirations, but significantly influence school continuation, especially of boys. (4) Age increases the weight on father and child aspirations, suggesting that intrinsic motivation matters more at higher levels of education. (5) Income increases the weight on father aspirations, but decreases that of the child. These results support the inclusion of children’s preferences in household decision making models and human capital investment models, and provide insights into the intrinsic influences that affect intra-household decisions.
  • 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
    Educational Resources and Impediments in Rural Gansu, China
    (2007-05-01) Hannum, Emily; Kong, Peggy
    This report seeks to provide a portrait of schools serving rural communities in northwest China, and to shed light on factors that encourage and discourage school persistence among children in this region. To achieve these goals, we analyze a survey of rural children and their families, schools, and teachers in Gansu province. The project interviewed children in the year 2000, when children were 9 to 12 years old, and again four years later. In part one of the paper, we provide a descriptive overview of the material, human, and cultural resources available in sampled primary and middle schools. Where possible, we note changes between 2000 and 2004. We describe the following types of resources: (1) basic facilities; (2) financial arrangements; (3) teachers, including their background, qualifications, working lives, professional development activities, satisfaction with work, and attitudes about school management and culture; and (4) classroom environments, as reported by teachers and by students. In this descriptive section of the paper, we highlight basic infrastructure issues, the complexity of financial arrangements at the time of the surveys, problems of teacher wage arrears and teacher morale, and the pedagogies and learning environments in classrooms, as reported by teachers and students. In part two of the paper, we investigate reasons for school leaving reported by village leaders, families, and children themselves, and analyze contributors to subsequent enrollment, change in attainment, and attainment of nine years of compulsory education. Our models of family, teacher, and school effects on outcomes show that higher socio-economic status children are more likely to show grade attainment, continued enrollment, and attainment of nine years of basic education. In contrast, the gender story is mixed: girls are less likely to be enrolled, but have not gained less grades, nor are they less likely to achieve nine years of education. This finding suggests that boys may start later or repeat more. It is possible that boys are more likely to be encouraged to repeat a grade to complete it successfully or to increase high school exam scores. One significant finding is that the introduction of school and teacher effects, by and large, does not explain away the advantages of children in better off families. School and teacher effects do not consistently matter across the three outcomes. Some interesting findings include that teacher absenteeism in 2000 is associated with less attainment between 2000 and 2004; children with better-paid home room teachers are more likely to attain nine years of school; and children in schools with minban teachers are less likely to attain nine years. However, there is not a consistent story of school characteristics that help or hinder childrenʹs persistence. Reports by village-leaders, fathers, mothers, and children themselves indicate that, along with socioeconomic status, children's performance and engagement are significant factors in school continuation decisions in Gansu's rural villages. Multivariate analyses indicate that childrenʹs early aspirations and performance matter for later outcomes. We close by discussing the most significant strengths and weaknesses identified among the school resources discussed in part one, and the most significant supports and hindrances to favorable educational outcomes considered in part two.
  • Publication
    Parental Migration and Child Development in China
    (2010-11-01) Lee, Leng; Park, Albert
    In recent years, China has witnessed a massive wave of rural-to-urban migration, which frequently results in family separations. This study uses panel data from a longitudinal study of rural children inwestern China to analyze the impact of migration by fathers on the development of children left behind in rural villages. Child development indicators include both measures of academic attainment, such as enrollment, years held back, and test scores in math and language; as well as measures of non-cognitive skills, specifically children’s internalizing and externalizing behavior which reflects their psychosocial development. To identify the effect of changes in parental migration on changes in child outcomes, we instrument changes in migration status with labor market shocks to village-specific migration destinations. Results suggest that fathers’ migration reduces enrolment by sons, has significant positive effects on the academic outcomes of daughters, but has negative effects on the psychosocial well-being of both boys and girls.
  • Publication
    Family And School Impact On Psychological Functioning From Childhood To Late Adolescence: A Longitudinal Study Of Rural Chinese Youth
    (2018-01-01) Yue, Yang
    The transition from childhood to adolescence can be a significant stressor for youth, leading to increases in internalizing problems for those who are vulnerable. Compared to the mounting research conducted on U.S. youth, children and adolescents in China have received less attention on their psychological adjustment. As Chinese youth constitute roughly 15% of the world’s population (World Health Organization, 2010), and the disproportionate quantity of longitudinal investigation on Chinese youth psychological functioning, understanding the influence of risk and protective factors, and their interactive effects on internalizing problems among Chinese youth is critical. According to Life Course Theory, Ecological Systems Theory, and Risk and Resilience Framework, we need to look beyond one snapshot, one risk or protective factor and analyze the interactions among multiple factors nested in multiple environments across time. Unfortunately, the longitudinal investigation of perceived family and school experiences on youth psychological functioning in rural China is rare. Thus, this study investigated four research questions: 1. What is the nature of internalizing problems among rural Chinese youth? 2. Are gender and perceived school experiences associated with internalizing problems in childhood among rural Chinese youth? Are they associated with changes in internalizing problems from childhood to late adolescence among rural Chinese youth? 3. Do perceived parental behaviors moderate the effect of gender on internalizing problems in childhood among rural Chinese youth? Do perceived parental behaviors moderate the effect of gender on changes in internalizing problems among rural Chinese youth? 4. Do perceived parental behaviors moderate the effect of school experiences on internalizing problems in childhood among rural Chinese youth? Do perceived parental behaviors moderate the effect of perceived school experiences on changes in internalizing problems among rural Chinese youth? This study used data from Wave I (2000) to Wave III (2007) of the Gansu Survey of Children and Families, which is one of the first projects to obtain data at the individual and village levels in four waves from 2000 to 2009 in rural China (Gansu Survey of Children and Families [GSCF], 2010a). The time-varying dependent variable was internalizing problems measured by a summative scale adapted from the Child Behavior Checklist and Youth-Self Report. The Level-1 time-variant predictor was youth age. The Level-2 time-invariant predictor was child gender, and the Level-2 time-variant predictors included perceived parental warmth, lack of teacher support, and adverse classroom climate. Research questions were examined using two-level growth curve models with time nested in individuals. All multivariate data analyses were conducted using PROC MIXED in SAS v9.4. The results showed that on average levels of internalizing problems decreased over time among rural Chinese youth from childhood to late adolescence. In addition, youth gender was not associated with internalizing problems, there were no differences between boys and girls in childhood in internalizing problems nor were their differences between boys and girls in changes in internalizing problems. As for perceived lack of teacher support and adverse classroom climate, both had positive effects on childhood internalizing problems. Youth who reported less lack of teacher support and adversity in their classrooms were predicted to have lower levels of internalizing problems. In addition, teacher support was also related to changes in internalizing problems from childhood to adolescence. Youth who reported more lack of teacher support were predicted to have a steep downward trajectory of internalizing problems in the developmental period examined, which indicates the effect of lack of teacher support is more detrimental in childhood compared to adolescence. Furthermore, parental warmth moderated the relationship between lack of teacher support and childhood internalizing problems. Lack of teacher support had a less impact on internalizing problems in childhood when youth perceived higher levels of parental warmth. Also, parental warmth moderated the relationship between adversity in classroom and changes in internalizing problems from childhood to adolescence. Adverse classroom climate had a less impact on the internalizing problems trajectory when youth perceived higher levels of parental warmth. The current investigation adds to the literature by examining the unique and interactive effects of individual characteristics, family and school experiences on internalizing symptoms from childhood to late adolescence. Results of the current study emphasize the importance of fostering responsive and supportive relationships within the family and school contexts early on and continually. Social workers in China have the potential to engage large teachers, students and school personnel to promote changes in rural school contexts and consult parents on strategies to improve family context. Social workers in China are also well positioned to advocate for national mental health policies that recognize and address mental health problems among rural youth.
  • Publication
    Essays on Health, Education, and Behavioral Choices
    (2010-01-01) Zhao, Meng
    My dissertation is composed of two essays that investigate the interrelationship between consumers’ health, education, behavioral choices, and perceptions. The first essay evaluates the impact of teenage smoking on schooling and estimates the lifetime income loss due to lower educational achievement and attainment caused by youth smoking. Using unusually rich data from China, the study shows that youth smoking can biologically reduce learning productivity and discourage motivation to go to school (where smoking is forbidden), resulting in lower educational outcomes and, consequently, reduced lifetime income. The second essay empirically analyzes the effect of a doctor diagnosis of hypertension (high blood pressure) on food demand and nutrient intake. The study shows that three quarters of the hypertensive population in China are unaware of their condition. A doctor’s diagnosis can lead consumers to update their perceptions about their health and, therefore, make better decisions for their food choices. The study finds that, after a diagnosis of hypertension, consumers significantly reduce their daily fat intake, especially the consumption of animal oil and pork. The effect is stronger for 2004 data, compared to the 1997 and 2000 data. This suggests that consumers have become more health conscious in recent years.
  • Publication
    Is Centralized Teacher Deployment More Equitable? Evidence from Rural China
    (2013-03-01) Han, Li
    Is centralized teacher deployment more equitable? This paper evaluates the teacher deployment centralization reform on teacher allocation in the context of rural China. Since 2001 the administration of regular teacher deployment has been gradually moved from the township (or local school district) up to the county government. Using the data from an impoverished province, I show that deployment centralization tends to exacerbate existing inequality in the allocation of teachers in favor of communities close to the county seat by exploiting variations in the timing of centralization.
  • Publication
    Do Mothers in Rural China Practice Gender Equality in Educational Aspirations for Their Children?
    (2007-05-01) Zhang, Yuping; Hannum, Emily C.; Kao, Grace
    More than 2 decades of economic reforms have brought great improvements in the quality of life for women and girls in China. Despite these improvements, in some areas, cultural values and norms concerning gender roles and traditional family structures still influence the values attached to sons and daughters and create strong incentives for son preference (Croll 2000; Li and Lavely 2003). The most striking evidence of the priority parents place on sons is demographic: the "missing girls" phenomenon of abnormally masculine sex ratios at birth. This phenomenon has become more extreme in the economic reform period (Banister 2004).
  • Publication
    Three Essays on Human Capital Investment in China
    (2012-09-01) Chen, Qihui
    This dissertation consists of three empirical essays on human capital investment issues in China. The first essay examines the trade-off between child quantity and quality in rural China, exploiting a source of exogenous variation in family size generated by the temporary relaxation in China’s one-child policy in the mid-1980s. The relaxed population policy allowed a rural couple to have a second child if the first-born was a girl. Exploiting this policy change, this essay creates IVs for family size from the sex-composition of the first two children in a family. The IV results indicate that rural parents hardly face a trade-off between child quantity and quality, at least in terms of their monetary investments in children’s education. These results imply that relaxing the one-child policy, as has been proposed by many researchers as a solution to the “missing girls” problem, is unlikely to cause reductions in parental investments in children’s education. The second essay investigates the impact of parental education on children’s academic skills acquired in basic education (grades 1-9) in rural China. It uses the scores on a cognitive ability test as an error-ridden measure of child ability, and then instruments this ability measure using IVs generated from the Great Chinese Famine (1958-61). It finds that parental education has a statistically significant impact on children’s academic skills, even after controlling for child ability. Moreover, while father’s education matters for child math skills for both boys and girls, mother’s education matters only for girls. These results imply that promoting rural women’s education may be an effective way to reduce the gender gap in math skills. The third essay estimates the causal impact of mother’s education on standardized child height, exploring the Chinese Cultural Revolution (1966-76) to create IVs for mother’s education. The preferred IV estimates indicate that the loss in mother’s education due to the Chinese Cultural Revolution led to a 0.3 standard deviation decrease in child height. This loss is substantial, in a magnitude similar to the effect of being exposed in early childhood to the Chinese Great Famine (1959-61).