These are some really thoughtful comments, in my opinion.
1. There are two students from China this year in the econ departments at Cambridge. Both are great and very nice people. And they graduated from the same high school in Beijing, which is well-known among many other ‘key schools’. When I was a high school student, I did not have the concept of ‘top/key schools’, since there is only one high school in our county. My English teacher in high school, who did not have a collage degree, never told us there are exams called ‘SAT’ or ‘TOEFL’. Obviously she did not know herself.
2. I was asked more than once whether I felt some culture shocks when I moved from China to Europe and to the States. I felt some differences, of course. But these differences are so small compared with the shock I felt when I moved from our village to Beijing.
I have no intention to over-interpret these comparisons. But when I read the discussion about abolishing the one-child policy, I do feel very much worried about people’s optimism, maybe because I am limited by my background. I still believe in most rural areas, people would not stop until they have a son or even more once this policy is abolished. So how to handle the future of a even larger population in the rural areas? ‘Well, we can provide more education opportunities’, people may argue.
I did also think education is the most important way or may be the only way of relieving the urban-rural inequality problem in China. I began to doubt this possibility reflecting upon the distribution of students I noticed since going to college, not to mention the tragedies of the murder by Ma Jiajue in 2004 and the suicide of Yang Yuanyuan recently.
Basically education has lost its function as a redistribution policy in China. One of the general equilibrium outcomes of abolishing the one-child policy, I would predict, is more serious inequality.