China&Apos;S Lost Generation: Changes in Beliefs and Their Intergenerational Transmission

44 Pages Posted: 9 Jul 2019 Last revised: 18 Nov 2021

See all articles by Gérard Roland

Gérard Roland

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

David Y. Yang

Harvard University

Multiple version iconThere are 4 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 4, 2019

Abstract

Beliefs about whether effort pays off govern some of the most fundamental choices individuals make. This paper uses China’s Cultural Revolution to understand how these beliefs can be affected, how they impact behavior, and how they are transmitted across generations. During the Cultural Revolution, China’s college admission system based on entrance exams was suspended for a decade until 1976, effectively depriving an entire generation of young people of the opportunity to access higher education (the “lost generation”). Using data from a nationally representative survey, we compare cohorts who graduated from high school just before and after the college entrance exam was resumed. We find that members of the “lost generation” who missed out on college because they were born just a year or two too early believe that effort pays off to a much lesser degree, even 40 years into their adulthood. However, they invested more in their children’s education, and transmitted less of their changed beliefs to the next generation, suggesting attempts to safeguard their children from sharing their misfortunes.

JEL Classification: Z1, I23, O53, P26, P48

Suggested Citation

Roland, Gérard and Yang, David Y., China&Apos;S Lost Generation: Changes in Beliefs and Their Intergenerational Transmission (July 4, 2019). BOFIT Discussion Paper No. 11/2019, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3415821 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3415821

Gérard Roland (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics ( email )

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Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

David Y. Yang

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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