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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter August 22, 2019

China’s Only Children and Their Spillover Effects on Academic Performance in the Classroom

  • Haining Wang and Rong Zhu EMAIL logo


This paper examines the causal effect of students who are the only child in their family on the academic performance of their classmates, exploiting the random assignment of students to classes within schools in China. We find that a higher proportion of classmates as the only child in their family improves the academic outcomes of students in the same classroom. We also find evidence of positive but heterogeneous peer effects by student and class characteristics. Our findings suggest that the academic performance of Chinese students has benefited indirectly from the one-child policy because of this positive peer influence within the classroom.

JEL Classification: I21; J13


We are grateful to the Editor (Hendrik Schmitz) and an anonymous referee for helpful comments. Thanks also go to the Chinese National Survey Data Archive for providing access to the China Education Panel Survey. Rong Zhu acknowledges financial support from the Australian Research Council (Linkage Project LP170100718).


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Published Online: 2019-08-22

© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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