Peer Effects of Migrant and Left-behind Children: Evidence from Classroom Random Assignment in China
59 Pages Posted: 12 Aug 2019 Last revised: 24 Jul 2020
Date Written: June 26, 2020
In this study, we investigate the peer effects of domestic migrant children and left-behind children on their classmates. Left-behind children are the children who are left in their hometown when their parents migrate. We exploit the large-scale random assignment of students into classes within schools in China to deal with the identification challenge due to the self-selection of students, which is rarely seen in other countries. Results show that an increase of ten percentage points in the proportion of left-behind peers and the proportion of migrant peers in the class results in a decrease of 0.12 and 0.06 standard deviations in a student's test score, respectively. However, the negative peer effects of left-behind peers are halved and the negative peer effects of migrant peers are totally erased in the second year. The reduction can be attributed to an improved class environment, such as students' relationships. Left-behind students' misbehavior due to the lack of parents' supervision may cause long-lasting damage and negative spillover. In addition, the indirect channel of family background of migrant and left-behind students explains only part of the peer effect. Relaxing the enrollment restriction of migrant students and encouraging migrant parents to take their children with them might reduce the overall negative spillovers.
Keywords: Peer effect, Domestic migration, Migrant children, Left-behind children, Migration restrictions
JEL Classification: I21, J61
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation