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Did Send-Down Experience Benefit Youth? A Reevaluation of the Social Consequences of Forced Urban-Rural Migration during China's Cultural Revolution

Publication Abstract

Download PDF versionXie, Yu, Yang Jiang, and Emily Greenman. 2006. "Did Send-Down Experience Benefit Youth? A Reevaluation of the Social Consequences of Forced Urban-Rural Migration during China's Cultural Revolution." PSC Research Report No. 06-603. August 2006.

During China’s Cultural Revolution, a large proportion of urban youth were forced to go to the countryside as a result of the state’s “send-down” policy. Past research has been ambivalent about the long-term social consequences for the Chinese youth who experienced send-down. Some scholars have suggested that the send-down experience may have yielded beneficial effects. To test this claim, we analyze data from the Survey of Family Life in Urban China, which we conducted in three large cities in 1999. Questions available in this data set allow us to ascertain the send-down experience of both the respondent and a sibling and educational attainment at the times of send-down and return. Our analyses of the new data show that the send-down experience does not seem to have benefited the affected Chinese youth. Differences in social outcomes between those who experienced send-down and those who did not are either non-existent or spurious due to other social processes.

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