Losing the race before its start: inequities in early childhood development interventions in China

Amy R. Liu*, Rob J. Gruijters

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


Extensive research demonstrates the far-reaching impacts of early childhood development (ECD) interventions, including both pre-primary education (PPE) and in-home nurturing. At the same time, a limited understanding of inequalities in ECD exposure across groups of children in many countries poses a fundamental challenge to effective policymaking. This research investigates key factors driving unequal access to PPE and positive parenting for children in China using data from the nationally representative China Family Panel Studies 2010–2018. The research finds substantial and persistent disparities by children’s ethnicity, migration status, household wealth, and mother’s education. While mother’s education dominates variation in both PPE participation and parenting practices, household wealth and ethnicity strongly influence PPE participation but exert less influence than migration status on positive parenting. The research contributes to a deeper understanding of the factors driving inequality in ECD in China, with important implications for targeted policies and programmes in China and beyond.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
Early online date13 Mar 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 British Association for International and Comparative Education.


  • China
  • Early childhood development
  • inequality
  • parenting
  • pre-primary education


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