Prashant Loyalka, Xiaoting Huang, Linxiu Zhang, Jianguo Wei, Hongmei Yi, Yingquan Song, Baoping Ren, Yaojiang Shi, James Chu, May Maani, and Scott Rozelle
Background. A key question faced by developing countries is how to effectively build human capital to strengthen vocational education and training (VET). The primary aim of this study is to understand whether VET at the high school level in fact contributes to human capital development in developing countries. To fulfill that aim, we conduct two sets of analyses using longitudinal data on more than 10000 vocational and academic high school students in China. First, we estimate the casual impacts of attending vocational versus academic high school on dropout, specific skills and general skills. Estimates from matching and instrumental variables analyses show that attending vocational high school (relative to academic high school) substantially reduces general skills and does not improve specific skills. Heterogeneous effect estimates also show that attending vocational high school increase dropout, especially among disadvantaged (low-income or low-ability) students. Second, we use vertically scaled (equated) baseline and follow-up test scores to measure gains in specific and general skills among the students. We find that students who attend vocational high school experience absolute reductions in their general skills. Taken together, our findings indicate that the rapid expansion of vocational schooling as a substitute for academic schooling may in fact be detrimental to building human capital in developing countries, such as China.
Human capital, specific and general skills, vocational education and training (VET), high school, coarsened exact matching, instrumental variables, developing countries, China