Prashant Loyalka, Jiaguo Wei, Weiping Zhong
Background. Although thousands of students of studies in developing countries have evaluated whether specific interventions improve the educational outcomes of disadvantaged students, few have focused on comprehensive reforms. The goal of this study of this study is to examine how a comprehensive package of demand and supply side educational interventions-namely the building of free, elite high schools targeted towards students from poor areas-impacts the educational outcomes of disadvantaged students. Specifically, we utilize a unique administrative dataset that includes information on all students in one Northwest province in China over ten years, in combination with short interrupted times series(SITS) with comparison group designs, to estimate the causal effects of this intervention on the college admissions group designs, to estimate the casual effects of this intervention on the college admissions outcomes of students from poor areas. Our results show that the intervention improves the likelihood that a “typical”(or average) student from a poor area can gain admission to non-elite colleges, but not to elite colleges. Furthermore, by exploring the mechanisms through which the intervention improves the (non-elite) college admissions outcomes of the typical student, we argue that expanding the capacity of existing high school may be a more cost-effective option than building new elite high schools.