This paper investigates how reductions of barriers to migration affect the decision of middle school graduates to attend high school in rural China. Change in the cost of migration is identified using exogenous variation across counties in the timing of national identity card distribution, which made it easier for rural migrants to register as temporary residents in urban destinations. The analysis first shows that timing of identification card distribution is unrelated to local rainfall shocks affecting migration decisions, and that timing is not related to proxies reflecting time-varying changes in village policy or administrative capacity. The findings show a robust negative relationship between migrant opportunity and high school enrollment. The mechanisms behind the negative relationship are suggested by observed increases in subsequent local and migrant non-agricultural employment of high school age young adults as the size of the current village migrant network increases.
de Brauw, A.; Giles, J. Migrant Opportunity And The Educational Attainment Of Youth In Rural China. The World Bank, Washington DC, USA (2008) iii + 50 pp.