Separate and Unequal: Hukou, School Segregation, and Migrant Children's Education in Urban China
This paper examines hukou-based school segregation (measured by both unevenness and exposure) and its impact on the gap in academic achievement between migrant and local students in urban China. Based on the analysis of data from a nationally representative school-based survey (the Chinese Educational Panel Survey), we show that, while migrant children perform significantly worse than urban local children in general, the achievement gap is particularly wider in cities where school segregation based on hukou status is severe, largely due to the uneven distribution of migrants in lower-quality schools with more exposure to negative peer influence. Analyses based on school fixed-effect models and the instrumental variable approach further reveal that a high level of exposure to migrant children has a negative causal effect on the academic achievement of both migrant and local students. These findings have important implications for policies on the social inclusion of migrant children in Chinese cities.
Country of focus: China.