Premature Boarding and Human Capital Accumulation for Rural Pupils: Evidence from School Consolidations*

Hou Haibo (侯海波)1, Wu Yaowu (吴要武) 2 and Song Yingquan (宋映泉) 3
1 Chinese Academy of Fiscal Sciences (CAFS), Beijing, China
2 Institute of Population and Labor Econoimcs (IPLE), Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing
3 China Institute for Educational Finance Research (CIEFR), Beijing

Abstract: From 2001 to 2012, many local governments in China closed down village teaching sites for primary school students in the first and second grades, consolidating them into larger township schools more distant from village students’ homes. School closure and consolidation are particularly striking in China’s central and western regions, where swathes of rural labor migrated to cities for jobs. As a result, numerous primary school pupils are forced to study at boarding schools in the first and second grades, which is considered as too early for pupils to live without parental care. This paper employs survey data from 137 township schools with boarding qualifications collected by a project team consisting of researchers from the China Institute for Educational Finance Research (CIEFR) of Peking University, the Institute of Population and Labor Economics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (IPLE-CASS) and the Capital University of Economics and Business (CUEB). By matching the home-school distance with village teaching site information as the proxy variable for the school consolidation policy, this paper evaluates the policy’s impact on the likelyhood of premature boarding for primary school pupils, as well as the impact on their human capital accumulation. Our study finds that the creation of teaching sites makes it less likely for primary school pupils to board at school. Premature boarding impedes children’s human capital accumulation, and the harmful effect is particularly striking for children lacking pastoral teachers, raised by grandparents and from families above average income levels, as well as girls.

Keywords: school consolidation, primary school students, premature boarding, instrumental variable, human capital
JEL Classification Codes: A21, I25
DOI: 1 0.19602/j .chinaeconomist.2020.03.07

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