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Chinese Social Policy in a Time of Transition$
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Douglas Besharov and Karen Baehler

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199990313

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199990313.001.0001

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Implications of the College Expansion Policy for Social Stratification

Implications of the College Expansion Policy for Social Stratification

(p.249) 13 Implications of the College Expansion Policy for Social Stratification
Chinese Social Policy in a Time of Transition

Wei-Jun Jean Yeung

Oxford University Press

In 1999, China implemented one of the most important educational policies in recent decades–college expansion, allowing more than five times as many youth per year to attend colleges since then. This paper describes the historical policy reforms in higher education in China, compares college attendance trends in China to other countries, and explores the extent to which access to higher education across different social strata has changed in post-expansion years. The analysis is based on pooled data from the Chinese General Social Survey (CGSS) collected in 2005 and 2006. Results suggest that gender gap in college attendance has significantly narrowed. Stark disparities remain by urban/rurualhukou origin and by family socioeconomic background. However, data do not allow an adequate evaluationstudy of the college expansion policy. The paper discusses unintended consequences of this policy such as an increase in unemployment rate for college graduates and a potential decline of the quality of higher education in China, as well as some of the measures used by the government to alleviate such problems. Finally, I suggest that abolishing hukou system to allow greater mobility in the labor market will help alleviate the regional mismatch between the supply and demand. More resources allocated to the rural areas and to minority groups from school systems much earlier than at college entrance time is critical in reducing regional and class inequality in higher education in China.

Keywords:   China, Higher Education, Education reform, Social Stratification, Social Policy

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