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Trends in Educational Gender Inequality in China: 1949-1985

Publication Abstract

Hannum, Emily, and Yu Xie. 1994. "Trends in Educational Gender Inequality in China: 1949-1985." Social Stratification and Mobility, 13: 73-98.

Since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the Chinese government's goals of equality and development have proven difficult to reconcile, resulting in periods distinguishable by varying combinations of government concerns with economic development and social equality. A primary objective of this paper is to establish the link between educational gender inequality and political climate by examining the extent to which shifts between egalitarianism and economic growth as primary governmental concerns have affected women's relative educational position in China. Specifically, with aggregate data from the 10 percent sampling tabulations of the 1990 China Census and unit-record data from the 1985 China In-Depth Fertility Surveys in Hebei, Shaanxi, and Shanghai, the researchers apply spline-smoothing regressions to model the trends in gender differences in transitions to elementary and junior high schools. It is found that periods with a strong emphasis on equality are indeed characterized by sharp decreases in gender stratification, while periods with a focus on economic development are characterized by increases or slow decreases in gender stratification. There is little evidence for an alternative explanation that the sharp declines in gender stratifications have resulted from parallel declines in fertility.

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