The Effect of Maternal Migration on Early Childhood Development in Rural China
35 Pages Posted: 27 Dec 2016
Date Written: December 4, 2016
Nearly a quarter of all children under the age of two in China are left behind in the countryside as parents migrate to urban areas for work. We use a longitudinal survey following young children and their caregivers from 6 to 30 months of age to estimate the effects of maternal migration on development, health, and nutritional outcomes in the critical first stages of life. We find significant negative effects on cognitive development and indicators of dietary quality. Taken together with research showing long-term consequences of early life insults, our results imply that, although the reallocation of labor from rural to urban areas has been a key driver of China’s prosperity in recent decades, it may entail a significant human capital cost for the next generation.
Keywords: Early Childhood Development, Migration, Left-behind Children, China
JEL Classification: J13, I21, I15, J61, O12
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