A longitudinal mixed methods study of parents’ socioeconomic status and children's educational attainment in Dalian City, China

Sung won Kim, Edward J. Kim, Amy Wagaman, Vanessa L. Fong

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7 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines why most of a cohort that attended eighth or ninth grade in 1999 at a middle school in Dalian City, Liaoning Province, China believed by 2012–2013 that children of poorer parents did better academically than children of wealthier parents. Based on survey data collected from 503 members of this cohort in 1999 and 2012–13, we found that business owners were the wealthiest among respondents' parents, that children of business owner mothers were less likely to get into a prestigious college prep high school and attain a bachelor's degree than children of white-collar mothers, and that children of blue-collar fathers were more likely than children of white-collar fathers to get into a prestigious high school and obtain a bachelor's degree. Based on follow-up interviews with 48 of these respondents, we found that business owning parents had less time than other parents to tutor their children, and that children of “poorer” parents were more motivated than children of “wealthier” parents (most of whom were business owners) to gain upward mobility through academic achievement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-121
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Educational Development
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jan 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grants No. BCS-0845748, BCS-1303404, and BCS-1357439. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. The research for this article was also supported by a Beinecke Brothers Memorial Fellowship, an Andrew W. Mellon Grant, a National Science Foundation Fellowship, a grant from the Weatherhead Center at Harvard University, a postdoctoral fellowship at the Population Studies Center of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Demography Fund Research Grant, a grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, a National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, a Visiting Fellowship at the Centre for Research in Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities at Cambridge University, a grant from the Harvard University China Fund, grants from the Harvard University Asia Center, and a grant from the Harvard University William F. Milton Fund. We thank Amy Wagaman, Shu-Min Liao, Eunmi Mun, Yun Zhu, Lisa Hsiao, Zhengyuan “March” Fan, Emily Bai, Elizabeth Austadt, Edward Kim, Stephen Koenig, Dian Yu, Kunali Gurditta, Yushi Shao, Ying “Angelina” Guan, Hayley Opperman, Perrin "Tyler" Bulakul, Muling Si, Wanjing "Shelly" Tang, Sam Ubersax, and Bowen Yang, for their advice and assistance.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Ltd

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science


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