The Long-term Consequences of Ordeals: Evidence from the Chinese Sent-down Movement

Shuhong Peng (School of Public Finance and Public Administration, Jiangxi University of Finance and Economics, Jiangxi, China)


The Chinese sent-down movement between the mid 1950s to the late 1970s is a suffering period for Chinese sent-down youths. Using the treatment effect model and the ordered probit model, we examine the impact of sent-down experience on sent-down youths’ income and happiness based on the sample of CGSS2003 and CGSS2006. By doing so, we can explore the long-term consequences of one’s suffering experience. The overall sample regression results show that sent-down experience increase 42% of individuals’ income, while reducing 13% of individuals’ happiness. Sub-sample analysis results are robust to the conclusion that the sent-down experience makes a positive impact on income and a negative impact on happiness. This study provides objective evidence for the historical evaluation of sentdown movement, a new interpretation for the Easterlin paradox from the view of personality latitude, new empirical evidence for supporting the new human capital theory, and useful inspiration for the the current grass-roots employment policy for university graduates in China.


Sent-down movement; Ordeals; Sent-down youth; Income; Happiness

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