673.4 Expansion of high education and equalization of educational attainment in China

Saturday, August 4, 2012: 11:30 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Li CHUNLING , Institute of Sociology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing, China
Educational expansion provides people with more opportunities for education. However, there is a debate about its impact on inequality of educational attainment. A comparative study of 13 countries directed by Shavit and Blossfeld (1993) concludes that inequalities persist even though education expands. But the results of recent researches questioned this conclusion. They find decreasing inequalities during educational expansion in some countries. During 1999-2002, the Chinese government adopted a policy to increase enrolment in higher education. This resulted in a five fold increase in the number of college students and the expansion of opportunity for higher education doubled in five years. What is the impact of such sharp expansion of higher education on educational inequality? Has it brought about a decrease in inequality of educational attainment? The paper, based on sub-data drawing from 1% population sample survey data of 2005 and using logit models, examines the impact of higher educational expansion during this period on inequalities of classes, Hukou status, ethnic and gender in China. The author tests the validity of the MMI hypothesis (maximally maintained inequality) and EMI hypothesis (effectively maintained inequality) in the Chinese context and proposes a further hypothesis, CII hypothesis (continuously increased inequality), based on rational action models of educational decisions. The results show that inequalities of higher education among classes, ethnic groups and sexes have not declined during the sharp expansion of higher education but inequality of high education between people born in urban and rural areas has increased during this period. In addition, regular colleges (Benke) experience more inequality than specialized colleges (Dazhuan). These results strongly support the MMI and EMI hypotheses and partly support rational action models of educational decisions.