Education Delayed but Not Denied: Returning to School of the Chinese Cultural Revolution Cohort

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 8:30 AM
Room: F201
Oral Presentation
Wen FAN , Sociology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
This paper examines a unique Chinese cohort whose educational opportunities were lost due to an unexpected exogenous shock. The Cultural Revolution (CR) cohort came of age during China’s Cultural Revolution decade (1966-76), when the educational system came to a halt (especially colleges whose normal recruitment stopped for 11 years). Based on life history data collected in the 1994 State and Life Chances in Urban China Survey (Zhou and Moen 2002) and Cox proportional hazards models, I find that, compared with the pre-CR cohort just before them, the CR cohort members are considerably more likely to return to school after their late 20s to compensate for their initial educational disadvantages, thus narrowing (but not closing) their educational gap with the pre-CR cohort as they age. Marriage and having young children discourage women - but not men - from returning to school. In addition, children whose fathers held a senior-high degree and/or whose fathers were cadres or middle-class/intellectuals have significantly higher school reentry rates, which lead to a widening educational stratification with respect to social origins, nullifying the state’s success in attenuating intergenerational transmission of educational (dis)advantage by launching the Cultural Revolution, as reported previously using data collected from the CR cohort in their early adulthood (Deng and Treiman 1997; Zhou, Moen, and Tuma 1998).