The Micro and Macro Conditions for Status Reproduction in China: The Role of Adolescent Non-Cognitive Traits and the Rural-Urban Divide

Friday, 20 July 2018: 18:00
Oral Presentation
WU HANIA, Department of Sociology, Fudan University, China
This paper aims to bridge two streams of literatures: the bourgeoning researches in psychology and economics in examining the impacts of non-cognitive traits (NC for short) on various of personal outcomes and the long-standing intergenerational status reproduction inquiries in sociology. Treating non-cognitive traits as a micro condition for status reproduction, we specifically investigate two questions: (1). whether parental social status affects individuals’ status via his/her adolescent NC; and (2). if (1) is true, whether the mediating effect of NC is contingent on parental social status. Given the huge institutional and cultural differences, we further propose the rural-urban divide as a macro condition for status reproduction, and suggest that (3). the mediating and moderating effects of NC may well be embedded in the rural/urban macro context.

Using a recent nationally representative sample-China Labor-force Dynamics Survey (CLDS) in 2014, we use the seemingly unrelated regression model to investigate the relationships among parental status (measured with education and occupation), individual’s status (measured with education, personal income and occupational status), and individual’s adolescent NC (measured with a group of retrospective indicators for one of the major incentive-enhancing non-cognitive traits: conscientiousness).

Our analyses reveal several major findings: (1). adolescent conscientiousness is strongly associated with individual’s achieve status; (2). over 35% of parental education’s effects on respondent’s education can be attributed to individual’s adolescent conscientiousness; (3) the mediating effects of conscientiousness is contingent on parental status, but the pattern is different for urban and rural residents: (3a). for urban residents, the resource substitution hypothesis is supported, the positive effect of conscientiousness is stronger for children from lower status background; (3b) while for rural residents, the opposite is true, Matthew effect is at work, the beneficial effect of NC is exaggerated for higher status families.