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Childhood Inequality in China: Evidence from Recent Survey Data (2012–2014)

  • Natalie A.E. Young (a1) and Emily C. Hannum (a2)

In recent decades, China has transformed from a relatively egalitarian society to a highly unequal one. What are the implications of high levels of inequality for the lives of children? Drawing on two nationally representative datasets, the China Family Panel Studies and the China Education Panel Survey, we develop a comprehensive portrait of childhood inequality in post-reform China. Analyses reveal stark disparities between children from different socio-economic backgrounds in family environments and in welfare outcomes, including physical health, psychosocial health and educational performance. We argue that childhood inequality in China is driven not only by the deprivations of poverty but also by the advantages of affluence, as high socio-economic status children diverge from their middle and low socio-economic status counterparts on various family environment and child welfare measures.

近年来,中国从一个相对平等的社会转变为一个高度不平等的社会。高度不平等对儿童的生活有何影响? 本文通过分析中国家庭追踪调查和中国教育追踪调查两项全国数据,详细描述了中国儿童在改革开放后所经历的不平等的童年。研究结果表明,来自不同社会经济地位的儿童在家庭支出和家庭压力这两个家庭环境维度上有着显著差异。此外,在儿童福利方面,不同社会经济地位的儿童在身体健康、心理健康以及学业成绩上也有明显的区别。本研究指出,高社会经济地位的儿童与中低社会经济地位的儿童在家庭环境和儿童福利等诸多方面有着显著分化; 因此,中国儿童在童年阶段的不平等,不仅来自贫困所导致的匮乏,而且源自富裕所带来的优势。

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