The Impacts of Parent and Peers on Children Human Capital
|School||Southwestern University of Finance and Economics|
|Keywords||Left-behind children The Great Famine Peer Effect intergenerational Effect Health School Dropout SonPreference|
The purpose of the dissertation is to analyze the impacts of a Child’s parents and peers on his or her health and education, in rural China. From the parental perspective, we examine the effect of parental absence on children health and the intergenerational health effect of parent exposure to the Chinese1959-1961Great Famine. From the Peer perspective, we investigate the effects of peers’health on adolescents’health and the effect of peers’school dropout on children school dropout.There are six chapters in the volume.The first chapter, introduce the topics and presents the organizations of the following chapters. The second chapter investigates the effects of parental absence on the health of left-behind children. The intergenerational health effect of parental exposure to the Great Famine is examined in the third chapter with the peer effects on weight gain explored in the fourth chapter. In the fifth chapter, we study the peer effect in school dropout, and chapter six concludes.Chapter one demonstrates the importance of children human capital, especially in rural China, as well as introduces the topics and presents the organizations of the following chapters.Chapter two analyses the physical health status of left-behind children relative to those living with parents, using the data from China Health and Nutrition Survey (CHNS), we find that the left-behind children are significantly more likely to become ill or develop chronic conditions than those with parents present. Interestingly, we find no difference in health between the left-behind and those with father present, indicating little advantage with father parenting children in terms of health gains. Our results indicate that government action to improve the health of left-behind children is necessary if the already significant rural-urban income disparities are to be mitigated.Chapter three explores the intergenerational health effects of the1959-61 great famine on children in rural China. Identification is complicated by the fact that the variables of father exposed and mother exposed to famine are highly correlated. Ignoring the effect of mother exposed to famine when investigating that of father will result in omitted variable bias, and vice visa; including both mother and father exposed to famine will result in no identification because of co-linearity. By constructing only mother, only father, both parents, and both parents not exposed to famine, we successfully resolve the identification problems. Data from China Health and Nutrition Survey and the method of Difference-in-Difference were employed. We find that children with both parents born in the great famine are significantly shorter by0.37standard deviations, comparing to children with parents not born in the great famine. We also find that children with only one parent exposed to famine are shorter than their counterparts. Therefore, the results suggest that the effect of great famine would last for generations.Chapter four aims to measure the peer effects on adolescents’bodyweight in China. Peer effect is a potential determinant of individual weight gain that has drawn more attention recently. The presence of peer effect implies that policies targeting at changing bodyweight can have enhanced effectiveness through multiplier effect. Using the small community nature of the rural sample of the wave2000of China Health and Nutrition Survey, we define plausible peer groups and assess the effect of the average BMI of his/her peer group on the BMI of an adolescent. An instrumental variable approach is applied to control for potential endogeneity of the peer group’s BMI. Several instruments are considered, including the first-attempted instrument constructed by taking advantage of the natural experiment aspect of the Great Famine. We find evidence supporting peer effect in general. When peer is defined based on the age range for the same level of school, the peer effect on BMI is significant for male (0.3) but not for female adolescents. When the peer is defined based on±2years of the age of the adolescent, the effect appears significant for the female (0.36).Further, we find that the influence of same gender peers noticeably stronger (0.34-0.42) but only significant for female adolescent. Test results show strong identification in our instrumental variable estimation. Our results are also robust to several placebo tests.Chapter five investigates the within effect of school dropout in rural China. The estimation of peer effect, however, is complicated by the problem of endogeniety caused by selection. By taking the advantage of son preference phenomenon in rural China, we use the percentage of boys of the first children in peers’families as an instrument variable for school dropout ratio. The intuition is that the majority of families are very likely to invest more in son’s education than daughter’s due to the son preference phenomenon. Thus the higher the percentage of boys of the first children is, the lower the school dropout might be. In addition, the gender of the first child in a family is considered exogenous. Using China Health and Nutrition Survey data (CHNS), we find that peer’s school dropout rate indeed affects the probability of a child’s school dropout.Chapter six summarizes.Chapter two through five could be regarded as independent chapters; meanwhile they are inter-connected to each other. On one hand, these chapters are independent in that each of them focuses on one topic, with comprehensive structure including introduction, literature review, empirical strategies, results and conclusion. One the other hand, these chapters are intrinsically related and comprised this dissertation researching the human capital accumulation in rural China. Specifically speaking, chapter two and three examine how parents affect children human capital with chapter four and five investigating the impacts of the peers. Chapter three and four are both placed within the context of the1959-1961Chinese Great Famine with chapter three investigating the intergenerational health effect of the Great Famine on children of survivors, and chapter four examining the peers’effect on weight gain in rural China. From the perspective of methodology, chapter two and three are employing the same method, incorporating father’s and mother’s impacts in a unifying framework, chapter four and five engage the same method, constructing Instrument Variable by taking advantages of some unique features in rural china.Human capital accumulation is a huge topic, what we study in the dissertation is just a limited area of the whole filed.While we get many important conclusion regarding the effects of parent and peers on children health and education, more endeavors have to be left for future research.