Despite China's central government policy asking urban authorities to provide compulsory education to over 30 million rural-urban migrant children, the majority of them are actually unable to access, or at least have unequal access to, public schools. This paper tries to understand the problem from an informal institutional perspective which has been relatively understudied. Focusing on the analysis of China’s political culture, social norms, and administrative arrangements, it finds that policymakers, academics and the public are all talking about the problems; but when it comes to the solutions, almost no one perceives that the current political culture, social norms and the way in which urbanisation is administered are impeding the effective implementation of new regulations and policies.
Dr Xuefeng Wang is a Research Associate in the Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies, and founding director of the UK-China Joint Research Centre for Regional Development Studies, at Newcastle University. He is a Special Research Fellow at the Institute of Spatial Planning and Regional Economy, National Development and Reform Commission, China and Visiting Researcher in Shanghai Jiaotong University. His research focuses on regional development policy, governance and the impact of Chinese institutional settings on regional disparities and urbanisation. He had worked as a planning officer at the planning department of a provincial government in China for more than 15 years before he returned to academia in the UK. Xuefeng is a member of Regional Studies Association, a member of editorial board of the Journal of Knowledge-based Development, and peer reviewer of Regional Studies, Urban Studies, and Environment and Planning C.