Volume 43 - Article 10 | Pages 245–284

The long-run effects of poverty alleviation resettlement on child development: Evidence from a quasi-experiment in China

By Jipeng Zhang, Lue Zhan, Chong Lu

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Date received:11 Jan 2020
Date published:24 Jul 2020
Word count:11920
Keywords:child development, migration, poverty, resettlement
Weblink:You will find all publications in this Special Collection on Life-Course Decisions of Families in China here.


Background: Poverty alleviation resettlement (PAR) program has become an important approach adopted by Chinese government to deal with rural poverty. Earlier programs were experimented for decades; we study a PAR program implemented by a local government in 1994.

Objective: This research aims to study the effects of the PAR program on the long-run development of children from a life course perspective.

Methods: We adopted a quasi-experimental design, by comparing the experimental group with a control group, using information of children’s long-run outcomes from field survey and government archive.

Results: We find that girls are worse off both in terms of education outcome and individual earnings in adulthood. Boys are less likely to be affected by the PAR experiment, but their earnings in adulthood are worse than those in the control group.

Conclusions: Overall, the results of the PAR experiment are not positive, for which we provide some possible explanations. Easier job access might discourage long-term investment in education. The PAR program might have short-term economic benefits but the long-term impact could be negative because of constrained choice of employment and location-specific skill accumulation that later can become less beneficial.

Contribution: The paper investigates the potential bad consequences of poverty alleviate resettlement on children’s long-run development. From a policy perspective, in the program we studied, people in the treated group are simply resettled to a designated area. A “one to many” relocation with free destination choices might be better.

Author's Affiliation

Jipeng Zhang - Southwestern University of Finance and Economics, China [Email]
Lue Zhan - Nanjing University of Finance and Economy, China [Email]
Chong Lu - Southwestern University of Finance and Economics, China [Email]

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