Mama loves you: The gender wage gap and expenditure on children's education in China

Haining Wang, Zhiming Cheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We investigate the effect of the provincial female-to-male wage gap on household educational expenditure for children in China. We find that an increase in the female-to-male wage ratio is positively associated with individual households’ educational investment in individual children, especially the out-of-school expenditures. The positive association is stronger for male children than for female children. Educational investment is more sensitive to a decrease in the gender wage gap among those with a higher educational level or a reduction in the gender wage gap within the informal sectors. However, educational investment is not sensitive to the gender differentials in the economic returns to education in the labour market. There is considerable heterogeneity in the effects of the gender wage gap across subsamples. Educational investments in children in senior high school, from medium- and low-income families, from urban areas and from families with only male children are more susceptible to a decrease in the gender wage gap. We also find that family income, economic growth and female bargaining power partially mediate the relationship between the gender wage gap and children's education expenditure.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1015-1034
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Economic Behavior and Organization
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Gender earnings inequality
  • Gender wage gap
  • Educational expenditure
  • Children
  • Returns to education


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