Secondary Schooling and Malleability of Manufacturing Workers in China: A Pilot Study


Yi-min Lin

This  study  develops  and  empirically  tests  the  hypothesis  that  greater  exposure  to  pre-college  education  produces  more  “malleable” factory  workers  in  China’s  manufacturing  sector.  The  working  notion  of  malleability  is  defined  as  comparatively  weaker  tendencies  to  use  “exit”,  “voice”  and  shirking  strategies in  the  workplace.  Ethnographic  research  and  preliminary  survey  data  analysis  reveals a possible link  between  such  tendencies and  the  length  of  schooling  under  China’s  secondary  education system.  Further  analysis  of  survey  data  will  investigate  the  hypothesized  causal  relationship,  with  hometown  availability  of  senior  high vocational school as  IV.  Field  experiments  will  be  piloted  to  ascertain the  causal  channel  by  examining subjects’  schooling,  workplace  conduct, and  behavioral  traits  including  obedience  to  authority,  rule  compliance,  boredom  tolerance,  concentration,  and  self-discipline.  Results  will  shed new  light  on  China’s robust  manufacturing  boom,  FDI,  and the  role  of  schooling in  emerging  economies.  They  will  also  lay  the  ground  for  a  more  comprehensive  GRF  project.

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