Parenting Styles and Youth Outcomes in Contemporary China

  • Sijia Du

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis presents three empirical studies that examine the association between parenting styles and a wide range of youth outcomes, with a particular focus on the social divisions of parenting styles. Study One attempts to introduce intensive parenting into the existing typology of parenting style. Applying latent class analysis, I construct a new typology of parenting styles - intensive, permissive, authoritarian, and neglectful - and find that intensive parenting as a particular mode in which the more privileged families in China use their superior resources to reinforce their advantages. I show that parenting style follows clear class lines, with manual workers more likely to adopt neglectful parenting in contrast with those in professional and managerial occupations who are more likely to adopt intensive parenting. Parenting styles also differ by education and parental political affiliation, with college-educated parents and parents who are affiliated with the Communist party being more likely to adopt intensive parenting in urban China. Results also show that there are strong associations between parenting styles and children's academic, psychological, and behavioural outcomes. Study Two focuses on the effect of using the two forms of shadow education - private tutoring and hobby classes - on student academic performance. Using propensity score analysis to adjust for selection bias, my study shows that private tutoring can significantly improve student academic performance whereas hobby classes participation has very little effect on their academic performance. Higher family positions can significantly predict a higher likelihood of both private tutoring and hobby classes attendance. Study Three presents two avenues for understanding intergenerational transmission of class advantage, namely parenting styles and school quality. I found that most of the effects of family socioeconomic background on children's cognitive skills operate through school quality, whereas most of the effects of family socioeconomic background on non-cognitive skills operate through parenting styles. These three empirical chapters are complementary to and reinforce each other, and they offer new insights into parenting styles in contemporary China: their determinants, manifestations, and consequences.
Date of Award31 Dec 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorWendy Kay Olsen (Supervisor), Yaojun Li (Supervisor) & Nan Zhang (Supervisor)

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