Does the Expansion of Higher Education Reduce Gender Inequality in the Labour Market? Evidence from a Multilevel Analysis of Urban China

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 16:00
Oral Presentation
Jin JIANG, Lingnan University, Hong Kong
Jiwei QIAN, National University of Singapore, Singapore
The higher education system in China experienced a dramatic increase in its capacity in recent decades. During the higher education expansion, more and more female students gained access to higher education, and the number of female college-educated workers in the labour market is unprecedentedly high. However, the impacts of higher education expansion on gender inequality in the labour market are less well understood in the literature. To fill this gap, this study examines whether and how women benefit from higher education in the labour market of urban China. Specifically, we investigate the advantages/ disadvantages of college-educated female in terms of income and their employment in the labour market. More importantly, we take into account the new changes in labour market structure, i.e., the rise of informal sector (i.e., working in registered small-scale private enterprises, self-employed, and flexible employment), which accounts for about 60% of the total urban labour force. We also discuss the gender inequality in both income level and the sectors in the labour market (i.e. formal and informal sectors).

Drawing on a recent nationwide household survey (China Labour-force Dynamics Survey) and the city-level statistics, this study finds that higher education in general has a significant and positive impact on female workers’ conditions. Interestingly, female workers may benefit more from a college degree compared to their male counterparts in securing a job from the urban formal sector (i.e., state-owned enterprises, collectively owned enterprises, limited liability companies, shareholding corporations, foreign-owned companies and joint ventures). However, “glass-ceiling” effect of college-educated female workers exists in the informal sector.