Parental early-life exposure to land reform and household investment in children’s education

Haining Wang, Zhiming Cheng, Russell Smyth

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We examine the intergenerational relationship between the early-life exposure of parents to China’s Household Responsibility System (HRS) reform, which assigned collective-owned farmland to individual households, and investment in their children’s education. We find that an increase in the length of exposure of parents to the HRS reform when they were children or adolescents increases the extent to which they invest in their children’s education, although there is some evidence of non-linearities with investment peaking at 13–14 years of exposure to the HRS. We find that parental income and wealth, parental human capital and the improvement in public benefits that stem from land reform are channels through which parental early-life reform exposure affects expenditure on their children’s education. We also find considerable heterogeneity in the relationship across subsamples of individuals. Specifically, we find that education investment in children in junior high and senior high schools and children in the eastern region benefit more from parents’ early-life exposure to the HRS.
Original languageEnglish
Article number106391
Number of pages16
JournalWorld Development
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


  • Household Responsibility System
  • Household educational expenditure
  • Land reform
  • China

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