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Gender and Educational Attainment in Modern China: An Analysis of Trends

Publication Abstract

Hannum-Demopolos, Emily, and Yu Xie. "Gender and Educational Attainment in Modern China: An Analysis of Trends." PSC Research Report No. 92-264. October 1992.

Since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, two distinct and conflicting ideals, equality and modernization, have alternately surfaced as the main emphasis in government policies. The fluctuation in ideological emphases in modern China provides an interesting case for examining the link between government goals and social stratification under state socialism. This study hypothesizes that the alternating emphases of equality and of modernization lead to two distinct stratification systems: low stratification is likely to result from government emphasis on equality, and high stratification from government emphasis on modernization.

Specifically, the study chooses gender disparity in elementary and junior high school education as one indicator of social stratification in modern China and traces the shifts in and implications of social and educational policies. With data from the 10% sampling tabulations of the 1990 China Census, the authors model the trends in gender gap with time series, spine-smoothing regressions correcting for auto-correlation, separately for urban and rural residents. They found that periods of modernization are indeed characterized by increases in gender stratification, while periods of equality are characterized by decreases in gender stratification.

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