Asia Pacific Education Review

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 595–606 | Cite as

Substitution or complementation: the influence of parents’ educational level on sheepskin effects in the individual returns to education in China

  • Qinggen Zhang
  • Zhiyuan LiuEmail author


Numerous researches have already revealed the existence of sheepskin effects and proved the signaling value of education based on empirical materials from developing or developed countries; however, only a few empirical studies have explored the mechanism lying behind the proved educational signaling value. With this regard, based on recent 6-year cross-section data from China General Social Survey, the authors discussed the interactive effects between the educational signaling value and parents’ educational level. After correcting the selective bias and endogenous issues by multiple methods—Heckman two-stage, IV, and comprehensive models combined HTS and IV—it finds that there exist obvious sheepskin effects in the returns to education in China and robust complementary effects between parents’ educational level and the signaling function of individual’s education on their personal income.


Signaling value Sheepskin effects Parents’ educational level Selective bias Endogeneity 



Data analyzed in this paper were collected by the research project “Chinese General Social Survey (CGSS)” carried out by the National Survey Research Center, Renmin University of China (NSRC). The authors appreciate the assistance in providing data by the institutes and individuals aforementioned. The views expressed herein are those of the authors.


The research was supported by funds from the National Natural Science Foundation in China, for the project “The Relationship between the Value-Added in Higher Education and Graduates’ Employment: Theoretical Analysis and Empirical Examination Based on Educational Economics” (Grant No. 71673097).


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Copyright information

© Education Research Institute, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationHuazhong University of Science & TechnologyWuhanChina
  2. 2.School of English EducationGuangdong University of Foreign StudiesGuangzhouChina

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