The relationships between early-life adversity, educational attainment, and subsequent health have been the focus of much sociological research. Questions remain, however, regarding whether and under what conditions one can recover from initial disadvantages, why education is persistently associated with health, and to what extent selection and turning points account for the long-arm of early-life adversities. This dissertation sheds light on these questions by examining children of the Chinese Cultural Revolution (CR), who came of age during the turbulent CR decade (1966-76), when colleges were closed, the state intervened to sever the intergenerational transmission of educational advantage, and approximately 17 million urban youth were sent to rural areas to do manual labor. First, I use the 2003 Chinese General Social Survey to show that members of the CR cohort compensate for their initial educational loss by returning to school at later ages at a rate much higher than adjacent cohorts. Parental education matters more for members of the CR cohort in facilitating school reentry, reflecting the early-life discrimination of high-status families during the Cultural Revolution. Next, using the Cultural Revolution as a natural experiment and the unique Chinese institutional arrangements as a single-party state society, I construct two tests to assess three theoretical perspectives dominant in the education-health literature: spurious correlation, human capital, and fundamental cause theory. Drawing on three cross-sectional data sets collected in 1994, 2002, and 2010, both tests provide strong support for fundamental cause theory, showing that access to resources is the key underlying the educational gradient in health, while suggesting the specific form could differ across societies. Lastly, based on life history data collected in 1994, I investigate midlife consequences of the rustication ("sent down"�) experience. Propensity score analysis indicate a selection process due to the shifting rustication policy, accounting for the poorer subsequent health of those who were sent to rural areas and stayed there for a long time from the trailing-edge CR cohort. Taken together, this dissertation highlights the roles of the state, institutional arrangements, and historical timing in the shaping of educational attainment, as well as the relationships between early-life adversity, education, and health.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. June 2015. Major: Sociology. Advisor: Phyllis Moen. 1 computer file (PDF); xii, 137 pages.
Children of the Chinese Cultural Revolution: Disrupted Education, Send-Down Experiences, and Subsequent Health.
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