Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



This dissertation consists of two essays studying how students’ educational outcomes are affected by parents’ investment and school curriculum, which are two of the most important determinants of students’ educational performance, respectively. Specifically, in chapter 2, I investigate whether Chinese children born in the auspicious years of Dragon perform better than their comparable peers in school. Using three recently collected datasets from China, I find that students born in the years of the Dragon indeed outperformed their peers in study. I furtherly test the possible mechanisms for the better performance of the “Dragons” in school. The results suggest that parents’ higher expectations for their kids as well as more investment are the authentic drives that improve the educational outcomes of the “Dragons”. In chapter 3, I investigate the causal effect of high school curriculum on various student outcomes including academic performance at the university, happiness, physical and mental health, self-confidence, confidence in academic ability, and attitudes towards studying and learning. I exploit a curriculum reform in China, which significantly changed high school curricula in China. I find that the curriculum reform has significant and positive effects on all the students’ outcomes examined in this study. These results indicate that the reform had a significant impact on students’ academic success and well-being by allowing them to focus on subject matters in which they are interested, and by reducing undue stress of a regimented curriculum.



Committee Chair

Mocan, Naci



Available for download on Monday, June 09, 2025

Included in

Economics Commons