The overall goal of this paper is to contribute to the ongoing assessment of China's rural labor markets. To meet this goal, we have three specific objectives. First, we will provide an update of the trends in off-farm labor participation and wages of the sample households and examine how labor market outcomes have changed for those with different levels of education. Second, we will then seek to examine if education in different time periods - the late 1980s, the early 1990s and the mid 1990s -- can be associated with increasing access to off-farm jobs. Finally, we will examine how returns to education have changed during the course of the reform era. In short, our hypotheses are that if labor markets are increasingly rewarding those with a.) better education job access; b.) easier entry; and c.) higher wages, such outcomes will count as evidence that labor markets are improving. Both the descriptive data and the multivariate analysis robustly support the findings that between the late 1980s and the mid-1990s, labor markets have improved in the sense that rural workers have been increasingly rewarded for their education.


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