While the impact of international student flows as R&D spillovers have been studied extensively, an issue that has not been widely addressed in the literature is whether international student flows can alleviate the poverty of their home countries. This paper addresses this issue by studying the international students in China who come from the “Belt and Road” countries. To identify the causal relationship between international students in China and the poverty of their home countries, we analyze the data from 46 “Belt and Road” countries from 1999 to 2015, with geographical distances between China and these countries as an instrumental variable. We find that a 1% increase of international students decreases the poverty-headcount ratio by 0.019934 and the poverty gap by 0.006280. This effect is more significant in lower-middle income countries and small wealth-gap countries, the source of which mainly derives from non-diploma students.
Yuanyuan Gu is a Ph.D. candidate at the School of Economics and Management, Southeast University, Nanjing, China.