Talk - Can Elite College Education Change One’s Fate in China?
4:30pm - 6:00pm
Dean's Suite, Room 3360 (Lift 3 or Lifts 13-15), 3/F Academic Building

We study how an elite college education affects social mobility in China. China provides an interesting context because its college admissions rely mainly on the scores of a centralized exam, a system that has been the subject of intense debate. Combining the data from a large-scale college graduate survey and a nationally representative household survey, we document three main findings. First, attending an elite college can change one’s fate to some extent. It significantly raises the child’s rank in the income distribution. Nevertheless, it does not change the intergenerational relationship in income ranks or guarantee one’s entry into an elite occupation or industry. Second, although access to elite colleges increases with parental income, the income gradient is much flatter than that in the United States. Third, the score-based cutoff rule in elite college admission is income neutral. Overall, these findings reveal both the efficacy and limitations of China’s elite colleges in shaping social mobility.

Dean's Suite, Room 3360 (Lift 3 or Lifts 13-15), 3/F Academic Building
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Professor Hongbin Li is the James Liang Chair, Co-Director of the Stanford Center on China’s Economy and Institutions (SCCEI), Senior Fellow of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, and Professor in the Department of Economics, in courtesy, Stanford University. He got Ph.D. in economics from Stanford in 2001. Before joining Stanford faculty, he was C.V. Starr Chair Professor of Economics in Tsinghua University and professor of economics in the Chinese University of Hong Kong. His research focuses on China’s development and transition, and he is one of the most cited economists in the world studying China. He is the co-editor of the Journal of Comparative Economics, a leading economics journal studying economic institutions and the transition to a market economy


Host: Prof Yongshun CAI, Head and Chair Professor, Division of Social Science, HKUST


Division of Social Science