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Three Essays on Chinese Population

  • Author(s): Zhou, Yi
  • Advisor(s): Lee, Ronald D
  • et al.
Abstract

How can we interpret the demographic behaviors in Chinese society, whose culture is quite different from the West? To what extent can these behaviors be explained with existing theoretical frameworks? Or do we need to modify these frameworks or even create new ones? To shed lights on these questions, I conducted three quantitative studies using Chinese data samples. Each study investigates a specific question. Using the Great Famine as a natural experiment, the first essay examines the causal link between education at young ages and cognitive abilities in elder life. I find that the unexpected occurrence of famine deprived millions of educational opportunities at that time, which in turn resulted in long-term consequences for mental health and cognition. The second essay also focuses on the cognitive functions of elder adults in China through a discussion about the role of political connections, measured with a dummy variable indicating whether at least one of each respondent’s children is politically employed. The empirical results confirm the beneficial effect of having a cadre child, which partially works through the channel of encouraging social interaction. In the last essay, I examine how a girl’s educational attainment is associated with her given name. The given name may reveal the expectations of parents and also affect girls’ self-aspirations. By constructing three quantitative indices for each given name based on its relative frequency in different groups, I show that girls with a more educated, urban, male-sounding name are more likely to attend junior high school.

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