Impact of a Senior High School Tuition Relief Program on Poor Junior High School Students in Rural China

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China & World Economy, Vol. 21, page(s): 80–97

November, 2013

china world economy

A significant gap remains between rural and urban students in the rate of admission to senior high school. One reason for this gap may be the high levels of tuition and fees for senior high school. By reducing student expectations of attending high school, high tuition and fees can reduce student academic performance in junior high school. In this paper we evaluate the impact of a senior high tuition relief program on the test scores of poor, rural seventh grade students in China. We surveyed three counties in Shaanxi Province and exploit the fact that, while the counties are adjacent to one another and share similar characteristics, only one of the three implemented a tuition relief program. Using several alternative estimation strategies, including Difference-in-Differences (DD), Difference-in-Difference-in- Differences (DDD), Propensity Score Matching (Matching) and Difference-in-Differences Matching (DD Matching), we find that the tuition program has a statistically significant and positive impact on the math scores of seventh grade students. More importantly, this program is shown to have a statistically significant and positive effect on the poorest students in the treatment group compared to their wealthier peers.

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