Inequality in Education and Jobs in China

Essay by libo100_usUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, March 2005

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There is a Chinese saying that goes, "We live to old age, we learn until old age." We Chinese truly have a passion for education and believe that in return, education will further our knowledge, elevate our social status, and secure us a good job within society.

One of the most dramatic changes in the lives of average, urban Chinese since the introduction of market reforms in the 1980s has been the erosion of the "iron rice bowl". (Tang, 2000) Since the start of the reforms in 1978, China has experienced unprecedented economic growth, which has led to spectacular reductions in income poverty (World Bank, 2000). In the years when the redistributive economy prevailed, urban social life was highly constrained. As soon as the economic transition started, the life of urbanites started to change dramatically. While this change of the economy brought more material goods and a higher quality of life, it also dramatically increased inequality in education between urban and rural areas in China, especially in the 1990's.

While increasing income inequality has been studied extensively (Tang, 2000; Parish), relatively there is a tremendous amount of information available for me to analyze on unbalanced educational situations between rural and urban China. In the following paper, I will present a picture of the unbalanced situation in terms of education and jobs after the economic reform began in China.

To understand the dynamics of the inequality inherent in the educational system, it is necessary to understand the evolution of the Chinese education system and the redistributions of jobs under the socialist state. Until the 1980s, China's distributional policies strongly favored urban areas; the rationing system introduced in the 1950s enabled urban residents to have access to food, housing, education and healthcare at much lower prices. Almost all urban youngsters were guaranteed...