Social Barriers to, and Gender Gaps in, Educational Attainment for Rural Citizens in China

Social Barriers to, and Gender Gaps in, Educational Attainment for Rural Citizens in China

Jason Hung (University of Cambridge, UK)
Copyright: © 2022 |Pages: 48
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-7379-2.ch007
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This research project examined the social barriers to gender equalities in rural Chinese educational contexts in order to identify impediments to educational advancement and, thus, career mobility and poverty reduction, especially for rural girls in the long-term. The research questions of this study were as follows: In what ways and to what extent do different social factors influence the gender gaps among rural Chinese students' academic outcomes? The examined barriers were (1) gender, (2) parental educational attainment, (3) opportunities to practise Mandarin at home, (4) social welfare entitlement, (5) adequacy of educational facilities, and (6) transport accessibility. Human capital theory and dependency theory were used to develop the conceptual framework. Low paternal and particularly maternal education are associated with the widening rural Chinese cohorts' gender gaps in educational attainment; the magnitudes of the found associations are moderate.
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In rural China, the rates of poverty had reached 4.5%, with 43 million impoverished people residing in the countryside by the end of 2016 (Xue & Zhou, 2018, p. 207). The rural and urban populations are identified according to their usual residence. The rural Chinese population is the population that is administered at the county level (excluding towns); and the urban Chinese population is the population that is administered at city or town level. In addition, cities are areas that are officially administered at the national level as cities; and towns are areas that are officially administered as towns within provinces and autonomous regions (Martin, 1992, p. 392). For poverty alleviation, the Central Government aims to promote education universally, particularly in rural areas (Fan et al., 2002, p. 4; Heckman, 2005, p. 50; Kipnis, 2011, p. 107; Brown & Park, 2002, p. 523). The 1995 Education Law states that, ‘[the] Educated population shall enjoy equal rights under the law [in] such matters as school entry, grade promotion and employment...’ (Su, 2011, p. 19). In this book chapter, the author would like to address whether, and, if applicable, to what extent does, a range of social factors identified in existing literature affect access to rural education in China. The examined barriers included: (a) gender; (b) parental educational attainment; (c) opportunities to practise Mandarin at home; (d) social welfare entitlement; (e) adequacy of educational facilities; and (f) transport accessibility. Specifically, this research project would draw a focus on the gender aspect, and compare rural citizens’ educational attainment by gender, in association with how any observable gender gaps in education level are related to those barriers. Secondary data analyses of nearly nationally representative datasets were employed to statistically interpret any gender gaps occurred in the existing rural Chinese education system.

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