Effects of Parental Migration on Mental Health of Left‐Behind Children: Evidence from Northwestern China

18 Pages Posted: 18 May 2016

See all articles by Yaojiang Shi

Yaojiang Shi

Shaanxi Normal University

Yu Bai

Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) - Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy (CCAP)

Yanni Shen

Shaanxi Normal University

Kaleigh Kenny

Stanford University

Scott Rozelle

Stanford University - Freeman Spogli Institute of International Studies

Date Written: May–June 2016

Abstract

China's rapid development and urbanization have induced large numbers of rural residents to migrate from their homes in the countryside to urban areas in search of higher wages. It is estimated that there are more than 60 million "left‐behind children" (LBC) remaining in the countryside after their parents migrate, typically living with surrogate caregivers. Extensive research has focused on the impact of parental out‐migration on children's mental health, but less attention has been paid to the effects of parental return‐migration. The present paper examines the changes in mental health before and after the parents of fourth and fifth grade students out‐migrate or return‐migrate. We draw on a panel dataset collected by the authors of more than 19000 students from 252 rural primary schools in northwestern China. Using DID and propensity score matching approaches, our results indicate that parental out‐migration has a significant negative impact on the mental health of LBC, as they tend to exhibit higher levels of anxiety and lower levels of self‐esteem. However, we find that parental return‐migration has no significant effect on the mental health of LBC.

Keywords: left‐behind children, mental health, out‐migration, return‐migration, rural China

JEL Classification: I12, O12, O15

Suggested Citation

Shi, Yaojiang and Bai, Yu and Shen, Yanni and Kenny, Kaleigh and Rozelle, Scott, Effects of Parental Migration on Mental Health of Left‐Behind Children: Evidence from Northwestern China (May–June 2016). China & World Economy, Vol. 24, Issue 3, pp. 105-122, 2016, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2781278 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cwe.12161

Yaojiang Shi (Contact Author)

Shaanxi Normal University ( email )

Chang'an Chang'an District
199 South Road
Xi'an, Shaanxi Province 710062
China

Yu Bai

Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) - Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy (CCAP) ( email )

Jia 11, Datun Road
Beijing 100101
China

Yanni Shen

Shaanxi Normal University

Chang'an Chang'an District
199 South Road
Xi'an, 710062
China

Kaleigh Kenny

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Scott Rozelle

Stanford University - Freeman Spogli Institute of International Studies ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

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