Liu Yuan: For the Lost Youthhood
time: 2015/11/19 views 612

For the Lost Youthhood: The Impact of the Down-to-the-Countryside Experience of Zhiqing on the Education of Their Descendants

The Down to the Countryside Movement starting from the end 1960s and ceasing in the end of 1970s, which has been called “Shang Shan Xia Xiang” in Chinese, placed tremendous influence on the destiny of a large number of the Zhiqings who were then regarded as educated youths. This seminar had the great honor to invite Professor Yuan Liu of South China Normal University to delivery his latest research on the related topic. The seminar was held in Room 710, Fanhai Building. It was hosted by Professor Zhao Chen of CCES with the attendance of Professor Ming Lu, Professor Xiaohuan Lan, Professor Changyuan Luo, Professor Ziying Fan, and Dr. Jianfeng Wu. Some of the PhD students also participated in the discussion afterwards.

Professor Liu proposed the research question that whether or not the Zhiqings, since they were forced to discontinue their school, would be more intended to invest in the education of their descendants. Professor Liu demonstrated the two-part compensation mechanism of the diminishing human capital. He explained that it had been testified as the first part that intergenerationally, the parents of the Zhiqings would compensate the Zhiqings for their being stuck in the countryside; then the question became that would the Zhiqings themselves be keener to invest in the education of their children which could be taken as a sort of compensation for their loss of youth schooling? Professor Liu hoped that he could prove the existence of the second part of mechanism through empirical works based on available and credible data.

Theoretically, Professor Liu argued that according to the concept of Gestalt psychology, people would always pursue a complete psychological graph. “Specifically, this concept implies that if the external conditions lead to the ‘violation of completing the wish’ which will result in a shattered graph, people ,deep inside their hearts, will devote themselves to the fulfillment of this wish.” Correspondently, Professor Liu raised his hypotheses of the intergenerational compensation mechanism of the Zhiqings. “Under the circumstance that they were not fully compensated, the Zhiqings will invest more in the education of their descendants so that they could finally achieve the compete psychological graph.” Professor Liu said.

As for data, Professor Liu took use of the CFPS dataset. It included 825 samples of adults who reported the experience of down-to the-countryside. Especially, Professor Liu collected 649 samples who had underwent this experience from 1968 to 1978. Based on a further selection, Professor Liu obtained a database of 458 family samples of the Zhiqings.

In the empirical model of Professor Liu, the explained variable was the level of education that the descendants of the Zhiqings had received. The explaining variable was the experience of the Zhiqings which was set up as a dummy variable. Professor Liu controlled the personal characteristics of the Zhiqings, of the spouses of their descendants, and of the siblings of their descendants. Additionally, Professor Liu separated the first child of the Zhiqings from their sequential ones because he suspected that the Zhiqings might treat their descendants differently.

Relying on the empirical results, Professor Liu found that the educational level of the first descendant from the Zhiqing family was significantly higher that of the one from the non-Zhiqing family for around 1 year. “We confirm that although the possibility of primary and secondary education of the first child of the Zhiqing family is lower compared with that of the non-Zhiqing family, the possibility of tertiary education is significantly higher in the Zhiqing family.” Professor Liu added, “in conclusion, we identify the existence of the intergenerational education compensation mechanism.”

During the discussion, Professor Ming Lu critiqued that because of the limited size of this database, the remarks of comparison between the first child and the second were not convincing at all. In addition, Professor Ming Lu suggested that this research should utilize the instrument of Regression Discontinuity Designs. Another important comment came from Professor Xiaohuan Lan. “A more detailed demonstration of mechanism should be added into this research. Actually, the experience of Down-to-the-Countryside deprived the Zhiqings of the opportunity of obtaining systematic education, but the Zhiqings in reward gained some practical knowledge. The Zhiqings invested more in the education of their descendants at the expense of their current consumption. The implication of this research might be that the Down to the Countryside Movement probably alternated the utility function of the Zhiqings so that they emphasized more the quality and quantity of the education that their descendants could receive than their own consumption.”



By SHI Shuo

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