China's Education Expenditure

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jzh...@sdcc3.ucsd.edu

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Jul 6, 1992, 12:15:37 AM7/6/92
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China's Education Expenditure

Zhenqin Li
jzh...@sdcc3.ucsd.edu

During a symposium at Pomona about "China and the Chinese at
the Threshold of the 21st Century", I asked Professor Qian Jiaju
how did he arrived at the conclusion that among the 151 countries in
the world, the education expenditure per capita in China was
149th. He mentioned that it was concluded from some U.N. data,
but he did not elaborate on which data and what assumptions
were used. Professor Qian Jiaju did say that the percentage of
China's education expenditure in GNP is less than 3%, and that
in the government budget has been less than 15%.

In his speech at UCSD on April 6, Professor Fang Lizhi presented
some statistics about China's education budget as a percentage of
GNP. He concluded that China's education budget/GNP ratio has been
consistently lower than 3%, "far less than" that in India and other
developing countries at similar stage of economic development.
To explain why the education budget/GNP level in China is low, Fang
conjectured that it is because CCP "wants to control people's mind".

I agree with Professors Qian and Fang that China's education
expenditure has been low. But in order to understand this
empirical fact, it is not enough simply to indulge in
speculations about conspiracies. Since low education
expenditures have been quite prevalent among the developing
countries, it would be instructive to do a quantititive comparison
about the education expenditure among developing countries, and to
investgate the structural cause(s) of low education expenditure
in China.

In the following, I present below some interesting statistics,
from the _World Development Report 1990_ (Annual Report from
The World Bank) [1], _UNESCO Statistical Yearbook
1991_ [2], and _Statistical Yearbook of China_ 1990 [3].
It is my belief that data about the percentages of education
expenditure in government budget and GNP are relatively reliable
measures of a government's investment in education, which unlike
the absolute amount converted into dollars, are insensitive to
the fluctuation in the foreign exchange rate.

Table 1: General Comparison of Economic Development, Health Care and
Education of Some Developing Countries [1]
Bangladesh China India Pakistan
GNP per capita ($, 1988) 170 330 340 350
Life Expct at Birth (yrs,1988) 51 70 58 55
Adult Illiteracy (%, 1985)
Female 78 45 71 81
Total 67 31 57 70


Table 2: Central Government Expenditure on Education as a Percentage
of GNP [1] [2]
B'Desh China India Pakistan USSR
1972 ... ... 2.3 1.2 ...
1975 1.1 1.7 2.7 2.2 7.6
1980 1.5 2.5 2.8 2.0 7.3
1988 2.1 2.3 2.9 2.6 7.8


Table 3: Central Government Expenditure on Education as a Percentage
of Total Government Expenditure [2]
1975 13.6 6.3 8.6 5.2 12.9
1980 8.2 9.3 10.0 5.0 11.2
1987 9.9 11.1 8.5 ... ...
1988 10.5 12.3 ... ... ...


Table 4: China's Total Central Government Expenditure as a
Percentage of GNP [3]
Total Expenditure GNP Expenditure/GNP
(billion Yuan) (billion Yuan)
1978 111.1 358.8 31%
1980 121.3 447.0 27%
1987 244.9 1130.1 22%
1988 270.7 1398.4 19%


Conclusion

As Professors Qian Jiaju and Fang Lizhi pointed out, it is true that the
Chinese central government expenditure on education/GNP has been
consistently lower than 3% (the figure would be higher if we include local
government spendings on education). Whether it is "far less" than India
and other developing countries is a matter of personal opinion. However,
if we look at the percentage of education in the central government
budget, we see that China's current education expenditure is
comparable to (if not more than) that of other developing countries,
and even that of USSR.

Table 4 gives a vivid picture of the shrinking role of China's central
government in the economic activities of the nation, as a result of
the decade of economic reforms. Despite being known as the world's
largest "socialist/communist" country, the percentage of total
government expenditure/GNP in China is even lower than that in the
U.S., not to say the former USSR. From this table, we can see that
despite the percentage increase in the government budget on
education, the ratio of education expenditure/GNP has stagnated, or
even decreased after the economic liberalizations and
decentralizations. We may tentatively conclude that people are
getting rich as a result of economic reforms. However, the
society has not found effective mechanism to channel its newly-found
resources, especially in the private sector, into investment on
education. It is likely that this structural problem, rather than some
policy conspiracy of the Chinese government, leads to the decline
in the percentage of China's education expenditure in GNP in the recent
years.

Appendix: A REUTER News about China's Non-State Sector
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
2. Non-State Sector to Dominate Chinese Economy ....................... 29
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
From: A CND Reader
Source: REUTER, 04/11/92

MANILA -- Communist China's buoyant non-state sector could account for
three-quarters of its fast-growing economy by the end of the century, the
Asian Development Bank (ADB) said in a report on Saturday.

The Manila-based bank said the non-state sector could contribute 75-80 per
cent of China's gross national product (GNP) by the year 2000. The bank's
annual economic outlook said China's economic reforms had resulted in the
rapid expansion of the non-state sector over the past decade.

It accounted for 64 per cent of GNP by 1990, against 49 per cent in 1978
when the reforms began. The world's largest nation has just embarked on a
new phase of reforms. "The buoyant growth of the non-state economy is
expected to continue over the remainder of the current decade, under which
circumstances its contribution to GNP could reach 75 to 80 per cent by the
year 2000," the 52-member bank said.

The ADB report said the non-state sector included collective and private
enterprises, as well as foreign and domestic joint ventures. It said non-
state enterprises were quick to reap the benefits of the dismantling of
rigid central planning controls.

By 1990, about 464 million people or 82 per cent of the total labour force
were employed by the non-state economy, the ADB report said. The non-state
sector accounted for 95 per cent of agricultural output and 46% of gross
industrial output in 1990.

It said collective ventures, of which the township and village industrial
enterprises were the most important, maintained the largest share of
output. But foreign-funded enterprises were becoming an increasingly
important part.

liu9...@athena.mit.edu

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Jul 6, 1992, 9:37:42 PM7/6/92
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Just a question:

If China's education's expenditure is so low, how come there are
so many Chinese students (mostly graduate students) in the United States?

Lin, Sy-Chyi

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Jul 7, 1992, 1:23:00 PM7/7/92
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In article <1992Jul7.0...@athena.mit.edu>, liu9...@athena.mit.edu writes...

>Just a question:
>
> If China's education's expenditure is so low, how come there are
>so many Chinese students (mostly graduate students) in the United States?
The reason is there are so many people in China. If you compare the
percentage of people come to U.S. as students. You will find the percentage in
China is very low.

Yi-Chieh Chang

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Jul 7, 1992, 8:49:39 PM7/7/92
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>Just a question:
>
> If China's education's expenditure is so low, how come there are
>so many Chinese students (mostly graduate students) in the United States?

That's because the education cost is also low, so $1 education budget in
China can be as effective as $10 in U.S. For example, PLA only have
$6 billions annually to support 3 millions army while in U.S. it takes
$300 billions to do the same job.

Yi-Chieh

Yi-Chieh Chang

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Jul 7, 1992, 8:59:29 PM7/7/92
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In article <Br10t...@helios.physics.utoronto.ca> ch...@bullet.ecf.toronto.edu (CHIN CHIEN TING) writes:
>Very interesting point. This is something to be proud of for all Chinese.
>
>But then, it's sad that so many of the so few educated Chineses decided to
>leave their motherland (including myself).
>

I don't see any sad thing here. As long as a person is responsible to his
parents and children, the country he is currently living in, and the
company he is working with. It is a responsible person and there is nothing
to be sad about that.

Yi-Chieh

y...@egr.msu.edu

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Jul 8, 1992, 10:39:56 AM7/8/92
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In article <1992Jul8.0...@zip.eecs.umich.edu> c...@dip.eecs.umich.edu (Yi-Chieh Chang) writes:
>>
>>But then, it's sad that so many of the so few educated Chineses decided to
>>leave their motherland (including myself).
>>
>
>I don't see any sad thing here. As long as a person is responsible to his
>parents and children, the country he is currently living in, and the
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

>company he is working with. It is a responsible person and there is nothing
>to be sad about that.
>
>Yi-Chieh

I don't see why you need to be responsible to your parents and your children.
According your logic, if you on longer live with your parents, your
relationship with your parents is broken. And since you 'currently living in'
US, you shouldn't care anything about Taiwan, not mention Mainland China.

Yi-Chieh Chang

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Jul 8, 1992, 12:45:56 PM7/8/92
to
>>I don't see any sad thing here. As long as a person is responsible to his
>>parents and children, the country he is currently living in, and the
>>company he is working with. It is a responsible person and there is nothing
>>to be sad about that.
>>
>>Yi-Chieh
>
>Well, it's not sad for the individuals or the host countries (engineers and
>doctors and rich immigrants sure beat refugees from war-torn countries).
>It's just sad for China, the country, Chinese, the people, and Chinas, the
>govenments. But then only a few people feel this sadness.
>
>CHIN, Chien Ting
>Dept of Physics
>University of Toronto \ /

Then, why would so many people willing to come to U.S. and stay here ?
Because U.S. attracts them. I don't think most of people in U.S. have any
moral sense to serve this country, but the only motivation to make them do
so is this country respects people and let every one has a chance to develop
their potential and make their fortune. It's sad to see so many
'prominent Chinese' shouting that don't forget your home country go help
China, but on the other hand people got humilated at home and even
got killed if they want to be independent or doing something they thought
to be good but against the government's will. That's I called real
SAD an BAD. Most of Chinese I found on SCC and here are hypocrites, on one
hand they said Chinese should serve China and don't forget your home land,
on the other hand they said ugly words to those who have independent
thought and with wisdom to do a better job. How could a scholar with
slaving mind to do any good to a poor country. ?

Yi-Chieh

Yi-Chieh Chang

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Jul 8, 1992, 12:54:15 PM7/8/92
to
>>I don't see any sad thing here. As long as a person is responsible to his
>>parents and children, the country he is currently living in, and the
>^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>>company he is working with. It is a responsible person and there is nothing
>>to be sad about that.
>>
>>Yi-Chieh
>
>I don't see why you need to be responsible to your parents and your children.
>According your logic, if you on longer live with your parents, your
>relationship with your parents is broken. And since you 'currently living in'
>US, you shouldn't care anything about Taiwan, not mention Mainland China.

Don't change any single word of my definition about a responsible person.
A person is not responsible if he forgot about his parents and children not
matter how hard he is working for his own country.
A country is a collection of people, no people no country. People don't
sever a country but do serve living human, do you understand that ?
America is a good country because there are so many responsible persons as I
mentioned above. For the same reason, China is a poor country because there
are too many 'prominent Chinese' who forget about their parents and children
but only think about the 'country' or himself. A country only needs
responsible persons, not D-fighters, not heros and certainly not some one
who always tell people you should do this you shouldn't do that.

Yi-Chieh

y...@egr.msu.edu

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Jul 8, 1992, 2:18:02 PM7/8/92
to
In article <1992Jul8.1...@zip.eecs.umich.edu> c...@z.eecs.umich.edu (Yi-Chieh Chang) writes:
>>>I don't see any sad thing here. As long as a person is responsible to his
>>>parents and children, the country he is currently living in, and the
>>^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>>>company he is working with. It is a responsible person and there is nothing
>>>to be sad about that.
>>>
>>>Yi-Chieh
>>
>>I don't see why you need to be responsible to your parents and your children.
>>According your logic, if you on longer live with your parents, your
>>relationship with your parents is broken. And since you 'currently living in'
>>US, you shouldn't care anything about Taiwan, not mention Mainland China.
>
>Don't change any single word of my definition about a responsible person.
>A person is not responsible if he forgot about his parents and children not
>matter how hard he is working for his own country.

A person is not responsible if he forgot about his own country no
matter how hard he is working for his parents and children.


>are too many 'prominent Chinese' who forget about their parents and children

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^


>but only think about the 'country' or himself. A country only needs

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^


>responsible persons, not D-fighters, not heros and certainly not some one
>who always tell people you should do this you shouldn't do that.
>
>Yi-Chieh

Who? don't just randomly accuse. Tell us how responsible you are. If you say
a responsible person should care his parents and children not his own
country, why are you talking TI al the time? You should care your owu business.
Also, don't tell other people what they should do if you don't like such
kind person.

Shiping Zhang

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Jul 9, 1992, 11:43:47 PM7/9/92
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In article <1992Jul8.0...@zip.eecs.umich.edu> c...@dip.eecs.umich.edu (Yi-Chieh Chang) writes:

If so, then $1 in China is as effective as $50 in US.
But you sure the job is the same?

>Yi-Chieh

-ping

Shiping Zhang

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Jul 10, 1992, 12:03:12 AM7/10/92
to
In article <1992Jul8.0...@zip.eecs.umich.edu> c...@dip.eecs.umich.edu (Yi-Chieh Chang) writes:

So the spouse can be ignored, or cheated. :-)

>Yi-Chieh

-ping

he huang

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Jul 10, 1992, 5:42:45 PM7/10/92
to
In article <920706041...@sdcc3.UCSD.EDU> jzh...@sdcc3.UCSD.EDU writes:

Good to see a serious article like this.
I should say I agree with you on many of the points you elaborated
below, for example, quite some of Prof. Fang's claims have been more or less
exaggerating. Since he's not a social scientist, I wouldn't lay much words
on him for this.
Above said, I find some points in your post need clarification.
Granted, it is a general rule that data are more convincing than sheer
arguments, but in comparing data collected from different social systems, it
is very easy to take them at face value. The fact is, many macro-variables
have different definitions in different social systems. It is important to
bear that in mind when presenting data to do comparison studies.


>
>Table 1: General Comparison of Economic Development, Health Care and
>Education of Some Developing Countries [1]
> Bangladesh China India Pakistan
>GNP per capita ($, 1988) 170 330 340 350
>Life Expct at Birth (yrs,1988) 51 70 58 55

I don't see how 'life expct @ birth' has anything to do with the
topic...

>
>Table 2: Central Government Expenditure on Education as a Percentage
>of GNP [1] [2]
>

>Table 3: Central Government Expenditure on Education as a Percentage
>of Total Government Expenditure [2]
>

>Table 4: China's Total Central Government Expenditure as a
>Percentage of GNP [3]
> Total Expenditure GNP Expenditure/GNP
> (billion Yuan) (billion Yuan)

> 1988 270.7 1398.4 19%

>
>As Professors Qian Jiaju and Fang Lizhi pointed out, it is true that the
>Chinese central government expenditure on education/GNP has been
>consistently lower than 3% (the figure would be higher if we include local
>government spendings on education). Whether it is "far less" than India

I don't know in what exactly they claimed to be "far less than India
and other developing counties" since I don't have the chance to go
to any of their lectures. If we talk about Ed. Exp/GNP or Ed. Exp/Gov.
Exp figures, at least to me it is hard to accept the "far less" claim;
On the other hand, if we look at per capita Gov't Exp on Ed., my
impression would be "quite less", although may not be "far less" than
India and other DC's.

But more on this below.

>and other developing countries is a matter of personal opinion. However,
>if we look at the percentage of education in the central government
>budget, we see that China's current education expenditure is
>comparable to (if not more than) that of other developing countries,
>and even that of USSR.
>

See below.

>Table 4 gives a vivid picture of the shrinking role of China's central
>government in the economic activities of the nation, as a result of
>the decade of economic reforms. Despite being known as the world's
>largest "socialist/communist" country, the percentage of total
>government expenditure/GNP in China is even lower than that in the
>U.S., not to say the former USSR. From this table, we can see that

I think this is where different definitions of government expenditure
in different countries comes to play. In China, government expenditure
includes consumer subsidies, capital investments on state-owned enter-
prises, spending on public constructions, defense, education,
Di4Zhi4Kan1Tan4, and state-sponsored scientific and cultural
activities, plus some minor expenditures. In the United
States, on the other hand, government expenditure also includes all
conpensations to state-employed workers, among other spendings (mostly
various kinds of transfers to the unemployed, the farmers, etc). It
is imaginable that if the definition of government expenditure in
China includes compensation/salaries to state-employed workers, the
above listed figures would change dramatically. One of the only
remaining labels for a socialist China is state-ownership
of a large proportion of enterprises, therefore if one is to compare
which is more "socialist/communist", the existing figures of
percentage of total government expenditures in GNP is not good
indicators.


>policy conspiracy of the Chinese government, leads to the decline
>in the percentage of China's education expenditure in GNP in the recent
>years.

So have you made sure what is the definition of "education expenditure"
? I sure remember the figures you presented are "Central government
expenditure on education". Your claim of private funds not going
to education cannot be backed by the data you presented.

Huang He


jzh...@sdcc3.ucsd.edu

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Jul 12, 1992, 1:58:02 AM7/12/92
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I am glad to hear a serious criticism from He Huang about my article
entitled "China's Education Expenditure".

hh...@ellis.uchicago.edu (he huang) wrote:
<In article <920706041...@sdcc3.UCSD.EDU> jzh...@sdcc3.UCSD.EDU writes:
<...
<>Table 2: Central Government Expenditure on Education as a Percentage
<>of GNP [1] [2]
<>
<>Table 3: Central Government Expenditure on Education as a Percentage
<>of Total Government Expenditure [2]
<>
<>Table 4: China's Total Central Government Expenditure as a
<>Percentage of GNP [3]
<> Total Expenditure GNP Expenditure/GNP
<> (billion Yuan) (billion Yuan)
<> 1988 270.7 1398.4 19%
<>
<>As Professors Qian Jiaju and Fang Lizhi pointed out, it is true that the
<>Chinese central government expenditure on education/GNP has been
<>consistently lower than 3% (the figure would be higher if we include local
<>government spendings on education). Whether it is "far less" than India
<
< I don't know in what exactly they claimed to be "far less than India
< and other developing counties" since I don't have the chance to go
< to any of their lectures. If we talk about Ed. Exp/GNP or Ed. Exp/Gov.
< Exp figures, at least to me it is hard to accept the "far less" claim;
< On the other hand, if we look at per capita Gov't Exp on Ed., my
< impression would be "quite less", although may not be "far less" than
< India and other DC's.

It seems to me that
Per capita Gov't Expenditure on Education= (Edu. Exp./GNP) * GNP per capita
For developing countries with similar GNP per capita, the two rankings
(per capita education exp. vs. education exp./GNP) wouldn't be that
different. However, comparison using the first index is often flawed
in describing self-sufficient, non-market or transition economies, because
the price-levels and currencies used in different countries are often
quite different. For example, what would be the per capita education
expenditure in Russia, given that the ruble has been devaluated to about
144 to a dollar in the last few years? I would be very like to see
the assumptions being used by Professor Qian Jiaju in concluding
that China's education expenditure per capita is 149th among 151
countries in the world. Are these assumptions the same one used
in Professor Fang Lizhi's famous assertion that China's per capita
education expenditure is the second lowest in the world, higher only
than Haiti?



<>Table 4 gives a vivid picture of the shrinking role of China's central
<>government in the economic activities of the nation, as a result of
<>the decade of economic reforms. Despite being known as the world's
<>largest "socialist/communist" country, the percentage of total
<>government expenditure/GNP in China is even lower than that in the
<>U.S., not to say the former USSR. From this table, we can see that
<
< I think this is where different definitions of government expenditure
< in different countries comes to play. In China, government expenditure
< includes consumer subsidies, capital investments on state-owned enter-
< prises, spending on public constructions, defense, education,
< Di4Zhi4Kan1Tan4, and state-sponsored scientific and cultural
< activities, plus some minor expenditures. In the United
< States, on the other hand, government expenditure also includes all
< conpensations to state-employed workers, among other spendings (mostly
< various kinds of transfers to the unemployed, the farmers, etc). It
< is imaginable that if the definition of government expenditure in
< China includes compensation/salaries to state-employed workers, the
< above listed figures would change dramatically.

It seems to me that in China, salaries and compensation of state-employed
workers are also included in the government expenditure. The "if" in
the last quoted sentence could be dropped. What is the supposed
difference(s) here between U.S. and China?

< One of the only
< remaining labels for a socialist China is state-ownership
< of a large proportion of enterprises, therefore if one is to compare
< which is more "socialist/communist", the existing figures of
< percentage of total government expenditures in GNP is not good
< indicators.

Again, the "if" can be dropped. Let's forget about the
"socialist/communist" label. Let's see whether (and why)
the percentage figures of total government expenditures in GNP
are not good indicators of the declining roles of the central
government in the national economy?

< So have you made sure what is the definition of "education expenditure"
< ? I sure remember the figures you presented are "Central government
< expenditure on education". Your claim of private funds not going
< to education cannot be backed by the data you presented.

It is not my intention to provide a definition of "education expenditure",
even though I would like to hear a more precise definition than that of
"common sense". My article entitled "China's Education Expenditure"
was an attempt to investigate some well-published data about government
education expenditures, as well as Professors Qian Jiaju's claims.
Given the lack of data about China's non-state sector (which accounted
for about 64% of GNP in 1990), I have not systematically studied
the non-state sector's investment in education. However, among
the more than 1000 institutions of higher learnings in China, I believe
less than 10 are mostly funded by the non-state sector.


Zhenqin Li

P.s.: Upon request from a netter, enclosed are tables comparing
government education expenditures in the Eastern European countries
and China. A quiz: what is the government expenditure/GNP level in each
country?

Table 2: Central Government Expenditure on Education as a Percentage
of GNP [1] [2]

China Bulgaria Czechoslov. Hungary Poland Yugosl. USSR
1975 1.7 5.5 4.7 4.1 ... 5.4 7.6
1980 2.5 4.5 4.8 4.7 ... 4.7 7.3
1988 2.3 5.4 5.4 5.4 3.6 3.6 7.8


Table 3: Central Government Expenditure on Education as a Percentage
of Total Government Expenditure [2]

1975 6.3 8.5 7.0 4.2 ... 24.4 12.9
1980 9.3 ... ... 5.2 ... 32.5 11.2
1987 11.1 ... 8.0 6.3 12.5 ... ...
1988 12.3 ... 8.0 6.4 10.1 ... ...

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