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Risen from chaos: the development of modern education in China, 1905-1948

Gao, Pei (2015) Risen from chaos: the development of modern education in China, 1905-1948. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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My PhD thesis studies the rise of modern education in China and its underlying driving forces from the turn of the 20th century. It is motivated by one sweeping educational movement in Chinese history: the traditional Confucius teaching came to an abrupt end, and was replaced by a modern and national education model at the turn of the 20th century. This thesis provides the first systematic quantitative studies that examine the rise of education through the initial stage of its development. It mainly contains three analytical parts. The first one sets out the jourey toward the birth of the first modern education system, and generalized the main virtues and progresses it brought to China. The second section provides long-term estimates on how much education progressed through 20th century based on a rich variety of indicators: literacy rate, enrolment ratio, and more importantly -- human capital stock (average years of schooling). This exercise allows putting Chinese accomplishments in education into international perspective. The last Chapter of this thesis tackles one hotly debated question that ‘what factors drove the rise of mass schooling (primary education)?’ Given its political turmoil and economic backwardness, the expansion of modern primary schooling that was mainly driven by increasing public efforts seems puzzling. What contributed to mass education’s noteworthy diffusion in China? Based on a dataset that covers more than one thousand counties, we find that economic factors have little power in explaining the variations in educational outcomes. In contrast, both informal practice of governance imposed by gentry (one important social group in Chinese history) and regional political stability presented their critical importance. The findings of this section not only contribute to pin down determinants of education expansion, but also shed lights on a growing literature stressing the importance of informal institution in providing public goods in non-democratic societies.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2015 Pei Gao
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
Sets: Departments > Economic History
Supervisor: Minns, Chris and Ma, Debin

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