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

Student First Name: 
Student Last Name: 
Student Picture: 
Caitlin Keliher in China
Project Picture: 
Cailtin Keliher's classroom in China
Expected Year of Graduation: 
Economics and Chinese
Student Team Members: 
Professor Tara Sinclair and Professor Bruce Dickson
Other Team Members: 
Fun Fact About Yourself: 
Caitlin received the GW Undergraduate Research Award to travel to Yunnan, China in the summer of 2013. This project won 2nd Place in International Affairs at GW Research Day 2014. Caitlin and other GW Students were featured in a China Daily article on American students studying in China:
Project Abstract: 

This project analyzes the relationship between government expenditures on education and primary school student levels in mainland China from 1997-2010. After dividing China’s provinces into four regions to control for the endogeneity of educational attainment, I compiled separate balanced panel datasets using province-level data. My findings indicate that expenditures on education is not a consistent determinant of primary school student levels in every region. In the coastal region, there is the strongest positive relationship between these two variables. In the western region, where I find a negative relationship between education expenditures and primary school students, my results suggest that crucial omitted variables are negatively biasing my estimates. Additionally, my results indicate that the implementation date of the Compulsory Education Law is not a consistent determinant of primary school levels. I also draw from my extensive field research in Yunnan Province and connect my findings to existing literature on this subject to consider the implications of long-term education inequality on China’s economic development.