Like father, like son? Parental input, access to higher education, and social mobility in China

Xiang Gu, Sheng Hua, Tom McKenzie, Yanqiao Zheng (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
81 Downloads (Pure)


This paper studies the role of parental input in university access in the context of a 10-fold expansion of China's higher-education sector since 1999. Using a Logit regression, we find that an increase in a parent's education level significantly raises their child's probability of entering university. Moreover, the effects of parental involvement and children's trust towards their parents on university entrance are highly significant. The results are robust to Probit and Linear-Probability-Model specifications. Heterogeneity analysis reveals that for rural and/or worse-educated families, parental involvement significantly affects the child's access to university, while for urban and/or better-educated families, the child's own study attitude is key for progression to university. To address the confounder of genetic inheritance, we use regression discontinuity and two-stage least squares and find that the nine-year compulsory education policy launched in 1986 not only increased the education years of the first generation by about 1.66 years, but has also had a lasting effect by raising the second generation's probability of access to university by 11.77%.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101761
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalChina Economic Review
Early online date4 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022


  • Access to higher education
  • China
  • Parental input
  • Social mobility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics


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