Gansu Survey of Children and Families Dissertations

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  • 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
    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
    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).
  • Publication
    Teacher Mobility in Rural China: Evidence from Northwest China
    (2016-01-01) Wei, Yi
    This study investigates an understudied but crucial dimension of education in China: teacher mobility. The primary goal is to provide a basic understanding of teacher mobility in rural China. The issue has been extensively studied in many developed countries, especially in the United States. However, there is little research in China, partly because of the lack of individual-level longitudinal data on teachers. Using a dataset from a longitudinal survey in Gansu province in rural Northwest China, this study is able to fill some of the gaps in the understanding of how teacher move among schools in rural China. Three questions are examined in this study. First, are similarly qualified teachers distributed equally across schools? Second, how do school characteristics relate to teacher mobility? Third, how do individual teacher characteristics relate to teacher mobility? First, I examine the distribution of teacher attributes across schools to find whether there is systematic sorting in terms of teacher quality in rural Gansu. The findings show that there are substantial differences among schools with regard to teacher quality. Because the teacher quality measures at the school level are highly correlated, schools that have less-qualified teachers as measured by one attribute are also likely to have less-qualified teachers based on other measures. As a result, there are large gaps among schools in the chances of students’ access to more qualified teachers. Second, I examine the relationship between teacher mobility measured at school level and school characteristics including wages, working conditions, and compositions of students and teachers. The findings show that higher wages are likely to reduce the proportion of teachers leaving a school, but only when district fixed effects are not added. The findings also show that the school location and teacher composition matter. Being a central school is related to lower proportion of teachers leaving the school and lower proportion of teachers coming to the school as well. Higher percentage of teachers with less experience in a school is associated with higher proportion of teachers coming to the school. This pattern is related to the way of assigning novice teachers to rural schools and schools in remote areas. In the teacher-level analysis, first I examine the effects of initial placement on teacher mobility. The results reveal the “draw of home”; teachers whose initial placements are not in their home district are more likely to switch schools and they are more likely to do so for their families rather than career development or involuntary transfer by governments. Next, I examine whether teachers with higher professional ranks and better evaluation scores are more likely to switch schools. The findings show that teachers with middle- or senior-level professional ranks are more likely to switch school in the long run. The findings also show that failing the end-of-year evaluation increases the probability of moving to another school the following year, while teachers in the middle tend to stay at their current schools. There are several implications of this study. The findings suggest that localized recruitment and deployment of teachers have value in retaining teachers. If the government plans to use teacher rotation as a main strategy to improve the equal distribution of teachers, the policy should be carried out with consideration of the effects of draw of home. In addition, the successful implementation of the teacher transfer and rotation policies is closely related to prior institutional arrangement including the use of teacher transfer as reward and punishment, and other educational policies regarding the equal distribution of school resources and additional compensation for teachers working in hard-to-staff schools.
  • Publication
    Human Capital in Developing Countries
    (2009-01-01) Shi, Xinzheng
    My dissertation investigates human capital issues, including education and health, in China. In the first chapter, I test for evidence of an intra-household flypaper effect by evaluating the impact of an educational fee reduction reform in rural China on different categories of household expenditures. Using data from Gansu Province in China, I find that educational fee reductions were matched by increased voluntary educational spending on the same children receiving fee reductions, providing strong evidence of an intra-household flypaper effect. The second chapter investigates the long-term effects of China’s 1959-1961 famine. Using China’s 2000 population census data, I find that women affected by the famine in the first year of life were living in smaller houses, achieved lower level of education, and provided less labor in their adulthood. But there are no long term effects on men affected by the famine in their early years of life. In the third chapter, I investigate the impact of school quality on students’ educational attainment using a regression discontinuity research design that compares students just above and below entrance examination score thresholds that strictly determine admission to the best high schools in China’s rural counties. Using data from Gansu Province in China, I find that attending the best high school in one’s county of residence decreases the probability to take college entrance examination; increases college entrance scores and the probability of entering college.
  • Publication
    Local advantage: Community resources, teacher attributes, and student mathematics achievement in rural northwest China
    (2005-01-01) Adams, Jennifer H
    In China, a growing awareness that many areas have been left behind during an era characterized by market reform has raised concerns about the impact of community disadvantage on schooling. In these papers, I use data from the Gansu Survey of Children and Families (GSCF-1) to examine the relationship between student achievement and the characteristics of communities and their local schools in one of China's poorest provinces. The GSCF-1 examines children's schooling, achievement, and welfare in the context of rural poverty by integrating a primary survey of children with separate instruments that measure family, village, and school environments. In my study, I investigate an analytic sample of 436 children linkable to secondary samples of mothers, homeroom teachers, school principals, and village leaders. In the first paper, I investigate whether villages exert distinct influences on student achievement. Does living in a particular community provide children with an educational advantage? Do economic and social resources in the community affect student achievement? I begin by investigating the "fixed-effects" of village on student achievement. My analyses indicate that controlling for student background, the village in which a child lives influences his or her mathematics achievement. Next, building on these results, I address my second question by replacing the village "fixed-effects" by their equivalent random-effects to explore whether specific community characteristics influence student achievement. My results reveal that children who live in villages with a higher per pupil expenditure from non-governmental resources have higher mathematics achievement, net of controls. Similarly, children who live in villages with higher levels of social capital have higher math scores on average. In the second paper, I use random-effects analysis to examine whether teacher attributes make a difference for student mathematics achievement in rural China. What kind of teacher characteristics matter? And what role might teacher attributes play in linking community disadvantage to student achievement? These analyses demonstrate not only that teachers matter for student mathematics achievement, but also reveal a complex picture of what kind of teacher characteristics make a difference in resource-constrained rural schools.
  • Publication
    Poverty, Education, and Intrahousehold Bargaining: Evidence from China
    (2003-01-01) Brown, Philip H
    This dissertation is comprised of three separate essays that analyze decision making and education within resource-constrained households. Each essay makes use of data from households and schools in rural China to investigate problems of broad interest in development microeconomics. Low income coupled with incomplete credit markets make financing educational investments difficult in poor areas even when the returns to education exceed the costs. These problems are compounded by the prevalence of less educated parents in poor areas because such parents may be less likely to educate their own children. In particular, less educated parents may have a lower ability to assist their children with schoolwork, may be less able to provide complementary inputs to learning, and may value education less. Moreover, their children may face lower returns to schooling. In addition, the low education levels of women may affect their relative intra-household bargaining positions and thus household decisions about children's education if parental preferences differ.
  • Publication
    Fathers’ Involvement at Home and Children’s Achievement: Evidence from Rural China, Gansu Province
    (2011-04-25) Sun, Jinghan
    Based on the Gansu Survey of Children and Families (GSCF, 2007), this thesis investigates the hierarchical effects of teacher personal characteristics and teaching job attributes as determinants of wages and sources of variations from the perspective of Hedonic Wage Theory. Based on the Hedonic Wage Theory, this study has made use of a scientific sampled micro data set to analyze teacher wage disparities in rural Gansu, which is a typical less-developed northwestern remote province in Mainland China. Hierarchical Linear Modeling(HLM) is employed to study the regional effects. Major foci of this thesis consist of: (1)The nature and strength of economic values of teacher personal characteristics and teaching job attributes. (2)The substitution between pecuniary rewards from wages and non-pecuniary benefit derived from working conditions and living amenities, and its implications for teacher personnel costs. (3)How regional policies are related to teacher wage variations and what can government do to narrow the consequential gap in education service. The conclusions of the study include: Both teacher personal characteristics and teaching job attributes are major determining factors of wages. Human capital components proxying higher teacher quality are positively compensated, while better daily working and living conditions are paid in the form of lower wages. In other words, hardships are associated with compensating wage differentials. Working conditions in schools and living conditions in community where the teaching position is located are substitutable with wages. The substitution between wages and job conditions varies from -0.03 to 0.05. Negative values mean that teachers are willing to accept lower wages to work in a better-off county. It costs more for hard-to-staff regions to recruit a comparable teacher. In consideration of wage compensations, the "Helping the Poor" policy can give a better indication than the "Subsidy to Remote and Difficult Districts Scheme". Dis-utilities from uncomfortable working and living environment in poor counties cost 15% extra wage expenditures. Accounting for teacher utility preference, disadvantageous counties classified by economic-geographic features should be financially aided based on teacher cost index(TCI) to recruit and retain quality teachers. Simulation implies that counties labeled as "poor" should be provided 10% more marginal personnel budget in order to hire an average teacher who meets the basic education requirements. However, fiscal assistances based on degree of remoteness do not show consistent patterns. The most remote counties can hire a comparable teacher at a cost of only 74% of the average, while those second most remote ones pay 3.6-11.8% more. There are two major policy implications from the results of the study: (1)The "Subsidy to Remote and Difficult Districts Scheme" and the "Helping the Poor" policy have different focuses. Though the former scheme may have public-goods considerations, the latter can give a clear and differentiative policy implication for education finance. (2)It would be an equitable and efficient way to incorporate uncontrollable external factors into a teacher wage index(TCI), and to use it to adjust education financial strategies to these difficult areas.