Educational stratification in urban China: 1949-94

Xueguang Zhou, Phyllis Moen, Nancy Brandon Tuma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

145 Scopus citations


This article examines the effects of stratification processes, based on family social origins, gender, and residential location, on educational attainment in urban China from 1949 to 1994. The authors emphasize the importance of political processes and the state socialist redistributive economy, arguing that shifting state policies led to varying mechanisms of stratification over time. Analyzing the educational experiences of a representative sample of urban residents in 20 cities in China, they found significant and varying effects of family social origins, with high levels of fathers' education and occupation (or status) not always conducive to their children's educational achievement. In addition, those who resided in the largest cities were the most educationally advantaged, and gender-based inequality in educational attainment persisted over time, despite noticeable variations induced by state policies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-222
Number of pages24
JournalSociology of Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1998


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