Liu X, Hannum E. Early poverty exposure predicts young adult educational outcomes in China. China Econ Rev. 2017 Jul;44:79-97.

Comparative research suggests that poverty in childhood, and especially in the early years, impedes educational attainment. With longitudinal data from China, we estimate hazard models of dropping out of school in young adulthood with two dynamic measures of childhood poverty: poverty spell indicators that distinguish poverty in early childhood, middle childhood, and adolescence, and poverty indices that measure the depth of poverty and distinguish chronic from transient poverty.

Four main results emerge: 1) Children who experience spells in poverty leave school at a higher rate than others, even adjusting for poverty in later periods; 2) Transient poverty is more widespread, and shows a greater negative association with school-leaving, than chronic poverty; 3) Early childhood poverty shows greater negative associations with education outcomes than poverty in later periods; and 4) Girls may be more susceptible than boys to early poverty. We further test two possible mechanisms of impact: early nutrition poverty and school fees. While lower protein intake at an early stage of life is related to poorer educational outcomes in young adulthood, adjusting for nutritional deprivation does not attenuate the associations of early transient income poverty. Results do not suggest that cohorts that experienced school-fee abolishment policies experienced different poverty effects than other cohorts.

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