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Dropping Out of Rural China's Secondary Schools: A Mixed-methods Analysis*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 December 2015

Yaojiang Shi
Affiliation:
Center for Experimental Economics for Education, Shaanxi Normal University. Email: shiyaojiang7@gmail.com.
Linxiu Zhang*
Affiliation:
Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy, Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Yue Ma
Affiliation:
Center for Experimental Economics for Education, Shaanxi Normal University. Email: mayue2871@126.com.
Hongmei Yi
Affiliation:
Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Email: yihm.ccap@igsnrr.ac.cn.
Chengfang Liu
Affiliation:
Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Email: cfliu.ccap@igsnrr.ac.cn.
Natalie Johnson
Affiliation:
Rural Education Action Program, Freeman Spogli Institute, Stanford University. Email: nsydneyj@stanford.edu.
James Chu
Affiliation:
Rural Education Action Program, Freeman Spogli Institute, Stanford University. Email: jchu1225@stanford.edu.
Prashant Loyalka
Affiliation:
Rural Education Action Program, Freeman Spogli Institute, Stanford University. Email: loyalka@stanford.edu.
Scott Rozelle
Affiliation:
Rural Education Action Program, Freeman Spogli Institute, Stanford University. Email: rozelle@stanford.edu.
*
Email: lxzhang.ccap@igsnrr.ac.cn (corresponding author).

Abstract

Students in rural China are dropping out of secondary school at troubling rates. While there is considerable quantitative research on this issue, no systematic effort has been made to assess the deeper reasons behind student decision making through a mixed-methods approach. This article seeks to explore the prevalence, correlates and potential reasons for rural dropout throughout the secondary education process. It brings together results from eight large-scale survey studies covering 24,931 rural secondary students across four provinces, as well as analysis of extensive interviews with 52 students from these same study sites. The results show that the cumulative dropout rate across all windows of secondary education may be as high as 63 per cent. Dropping out is significantly correlated with low academic performance, high opportunity cost, low socio-economic status and poor mental health. A model is developed to suggest that rural dropout is primarily driven by two mechanisms: rational cost-benefit analysis or impulsive, stress-induced decision making.

摘要

中国农村地区的中学生辍学率正处在一个令人不安的高度。尽管大量的定量研究关注过这一议题, 但还没有研究利用混合方法系统地分析学生选择辍学的深层次原因。本文旨在探索农村中学阶段学生辍学现状、相关因素以及潜在的原因。为此, 基于八次大规模调研收集的来自四个省 24931 名农村中学生的数据, 以及与 52 名来 自样本地区的农村学生的深入访谈, 我们发现, 农村地区整个中学阶段的累计辍学率高达 63%。而辍学与学习成绩差、机会成本高、社会经济地位低, 以及心理健康问题有着显著的相关性。分析结果显示, 农村地区中学阶段的辍学主要是受两种机制的影响: 理性的成本−收益分析, 和一时冲动的压力胁迫下的决策。

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © The China Quarterly 2015 

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Footnotes

*

The authors acknowledge the financial assistance of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant No. 71110107028 and 71033003), the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation and the Ford Foundation.

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