Ren, Qiang, and Donald J. Treiman. 2013. "Consequences of Parental Labor Migration in China for Children’s Emotional Well-being." PSC Research Report No. 13-799. August 2013.
Using data from the 2010 wave of the China Family Panel Studies (CFPS), we study the effects of internal migration in China on the emotional well-being of children age 10-15. The 2010 CFPS, a national probability sample survey of the Chinese population, includes 3,464 children within this age range. We compare five groups: rural children with local registration living with both parents; urban children with local registration living with both parents; children accompanying their migrant parent(s); children left behind with one parent when the other parent goes out to work; and children left behind or sent to live with others when both parents go out to work. We expected the last three groups to be at risk of increased emotional difficulties compared to children living with both parents. We tested these expectations using both conventional regression models and community fixed-effects models. The evidence supporting our expectations is very weak and inconsistent, leading us to conclude that in the Chinese context family arrangements have little impact on the emotional well-being of children. We finish by offering some conjectures as to why this is so.
Country of focus: China.