Investing in Compulsory Education: The Regional Impact of Education Expenditures on Primary School Students in Mainland China

Reviewed by Eren Villa

In her paper, “Investing in Compulsory Education: The Regional Impact of Education Expenditures on Primary School Students in Mainland China”, Caitlin Keliher examines the relationship between education expenditures and primary school student levels in different regions of China. She analyzes the effects of government spending by dividing the country into four separate regions: Coastal, Central, Western, and Northeastern. She employs statistical and econometric models in her analysis of the effectiveness of increasing spending on education within these four different regions of China. Additionally, Keliher speculates on the social implications of government policies such as the One-Child policy, and the 1986 Compulsory Education Law on educational enrollment.

Keliher finds a positive correlation between expenditures and primary school students per 100,000 people, supporting the theory that increasing spending on education leads to greater educational enrollment. She finds that China’s coastal region experiences the strongest increases in primary school student levels by increasing public spending. Likewise, China’s Central and Northeastern regions experience similar increases in student levels, although the impact of expenditures is weaker in these regions. However, in the western region this correlation does not hold true. In fact, Keliher’s research suggests there is a negative correlation between government expenditures on education and primary school students per 100,000 people.

This paper offers intriguing data on the disparities which exist in China’s different regions. The gap that exists between China’s urban coastal region and the more rural western region will likely grow according to Keliher’s data. However, her research did indicate that social policies such as the 1986 Compulsory Education Law were more effective in raising primary school student levels in rural regions than increasing government spending. Keliher concludes that in order to effectively increase primary school enrollment, China should consider region-specific policies.

See the full paper here!

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