To Board or Not to Board: Evidence from Nutrition, Health and Education Outcomes of Students in Rural China

The debate over whether boarding school is beneficial for students still exists in both developing and developed countries. In rural China, as a result of a national school merger program that began in 2001, the number of boarding students has increased dramatically. Little research has been done, however, to measure how boarding status may be correlated with nutrition, health and educational outcomes. In this paper, we compare the outcomes of boarding to those of non-boarding students using a large, aggregate dataset that includes 59 rural counties across five provinces in China. We fi nd that for all outcomes boarding students perform worse than non-boarding students. Despite these differences, the absolute levels of all outcomes are low for both boarding and non-boarding students, indicating a need for new policies that will target all rural students regardless of their boarding status.