Academic journal article Contemporary Economic Policy

Gender Inequality Education in China: A Meta-Regression Analysis

Academic journal article Contemporary Economic Policy

Gender Inequality Education in China: A Meta-Regression Analysis

Article excerpt

Although there is evidence that there was gender inequality in China's education system in the 1980s, the literature in China has mixed evidence on improvements in gender inequality in educational attainment over the past three decades. Some suggest gender inequality is still severe; others report progress. We seek to understand the progress China has made (if any) in reducing gender inequality in education since the 1980s. To meet this goal, we use a meta-analysis approach which provides a new quantitative review of a relatively' large volume of empirical literature on gender educational differentials. This article analyzes differences across both time and space, and also across different grade levels and ethnicities. Our results indicate that gender inequality in educational attainment still exisis, but it has been narrowing over time. Moreover, it varies by area (rural versus urban) and grade level. There is nearly no significant gender inequality in the case of girls in urban areas or in the case of the 9 years of compulsory education (primary school and junior high school). Girls, however, still face inequality in rural areas (although inequality is falling over time) and when they reach high school or beyond. (JEL 124)


The 2012 World Development Report (World Bafflc 2012) focuses on gender and development and states explicitly that gender equality is a core development objective in its own right. According to the Report, gender equality enhances the productivity of the current generation and improves development outcomes for the next. One of the main mechanisms of development that arises from gender equality is the improvement in education that moves hand in hand with gender equality. Girls who receive more education have more opportunities to improve their own vocational opportunities, living conditions, and social status: they also contribute more to economic growth (Glewwe and Kremer 2006). There are also particular externalities from female education in terms of reduced population growth, better child health, and household investments in children, more generally (Song and Appleton 2006).

Despite the adverse role that gender inequality can have on development, many developing countries exhibit gender inequality in many dimensions, including education. Almost half of the world's elementary school-aged girls, who are not in school, live in Sub-Saharan Africa; around a quarter live in South Asia (World Bank 2011). In India, the second most populous country in the world, of all the elementary school-aged children who should be in school but are not, the majority are girls (56%--UNESCO 2005). The elementary school drop-out rate of girls is twice as high as that of boys in Equatorial Guinea and Grenada. The secondary school drop-out rate of girls in many developing countries is also high (UNESCO 2011).

One of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) related to education is the elimination of gender disparity at the primary and secondary school levels before 2015. However, despite the often unsubstantiated reports of progress over the past years (at least unsubstantiated by independent sources), many countries are still far from reaching this goal. Scores of countries report that they will not make the goal of full enrollment of girls into school (UNESCO 2008). In 2005, only 59 of 181 countries (about one-third) with data available had achieved gender parity (i.e., GPIs ranging from 0.97 to 1.03) in their gross enrollment rates (GER) for both primary and secondary education. Most were developed countries and most had already achieved parity by 1999. The pace of reducing gender disparity has been much slower both at a global level and in those regions with the widest disparities in 1991 (the Arab States, East Asia and the Pacific, South and West Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa--UNESCO 2008).

Despite the considerable body of evidence, the finding of research on gender inequality in education in the case of China is still mixed in 2000s. …

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