Gender Inequality in Education in China: A Meta-Regression Analysis

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Contemporary Economic Policy

February 2013


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 exists, 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 I24)

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