Redeeming the Lost Years: The Resumption of Higher Education after the Chinese Cultural Revolution

Qing Lai, University of Michigan

Education is often taken for granted as a continuous progress that precedes work. This is not true during the Chinese Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), when the life course of a whole generation of school-aged Chinese was disrupted. While some never managed to compensate for the lost life chances, many others were able to resume education and acquire postsecondary credentials after the structural constraints were relaxed. Using retrospective data on personal life histories (Survey of Family Life in Urban China in 1999, Chinese General Social Survey 2003-2006, Chinese Family Panel Survey 2008 Pilot), this study examines the factors that contribute to such human resilience against adverse historical circumstances. The proposed individual-level factors include parental education, spouse's education, sent-down experience, occupational history, etc. Some occupational-level predictors, such as the average level of education of peers, will also be considered.

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Presented in Poster Session 7