Peer-Reviewed Articles

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Li, Angran. 2019. “Unfulfilled Promise of Educational Meritocracy? Academic Ability and China’s Urban-Rural Gap in Access to Higher Education.” Chinese Sociological Review (link)

mcsa_a_1579052_f0001_cAbstract: With the rapid expansion of higher education, educational meritocracy has received both applause and skepticism among scholars, citizens, and policy-makers. Focusing on China’s urban-rural gap in college enrollment during the expansion, this study examines the differential effects of academic ability on urban and rural adolescents’ college enrollment. Using data from the China Family Panel Studies, the results show that the urban-rural gap in attending academic colleges is largest for adolescents who are at the middle ground of the distribution for academic ability, while the gap in vocational college enrollment is greatest for low-achieving adolescents. Compared to their urban counterparts, the positive effects of academic ability on academic college enrollment are stronger for high-achieving rural adolescents. It has little impact on the likelihood of college enrollment for low-achieving rural adolescents. The results suggest that the major source of China’s urban-rural gap in higher education is unequal access to vocational colleges. The findings provide important insights for understanding how structural, cultural, and policy factors perpetuate higher education inequality in China.

Obach, Heidi, Angran Li, and Simon Cheng (equal authorship). 2018. “Boys, Girls, and the Second Shift: Paid and Unpaid Labor in High School and Adolescents’ Enrollment in College.” Social Currents 5(2):173-92. (link)

Social Currents2018Abstract: Sociological research examines the gender gap reversal in higher education and the gender division in paid and unpaid labor for adult women, especially “the second shift literature,” as two distinct topics. In this study, we extend the insights of the second shift literature to research on youth labor and adolescents’ enrollment in higher education. Using data from the Youth Development Study from 1988 to 1992, we find that the negative association of unpaid labor with adolescents’ college enrollment odds was at least as large as, if not greater than, that of paid labor. Although labor engagement had adverse impacts both for female and male adolescents during this time, the negative associations of youth labor with college enrollment were more pronounced for male students. We discuss the implications of these findings and explain their relevance to more contemporary cohorts of high school students in the conclusion.

Li, Angran, and Mary J. Fischer. 2017. “Advantaged/Disadvantaged School Neighborhoods, Parental Networks, and Parental Involvement at Elementary School.” Sociology of Education 90(4):355-77. (link)

SOE2017Abstract: This article examines the relationship between parental networks and parental school involvement during the elementary school years. Using a large, nationally representative data set of elementary school students—the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study–Kindergarten Cohort—and contextual data from the 2000 U.S. Census, our multilevel analysis shows that higher levels of parental networks in first grade are associated with higher levels of parental school involvement in third grade after controlling for individual- and school-level characteristics. Parental networks are positively related to school involvement activities in formal organizations that consist of parents, teachers, and school staff, including participating in parent–teacher organizations and volunteering at school. Furthermore, the positive effects of parental networks on parental school involvement is stronger for families whose children attend schools in disadvantaged neighborhoods. This suggests that well-connected parental networks can serve as a buffer against school neighborhood disadvantages in encouraging parents to be actively involved in schools.