Milken Institute School of Public Health Poster Presentations (Marvin Center & Video)

Title

Parental Migration and Early Childhood Development in Rural China

Poster Number

81

Document Type

Poster

Status

Graduate Student - Doctoral

Abstract Category

Global Health

Keywords

migration; rural China; left-behind children; early childhood development

Publication Date

4-2017

Abstract

Background

In rural China, over 61 million children age 0-17 (28% of all rural children) are left behind by at least one parent seeking employment elsewhere. Little empirical evidence exists regarding how parental migration in the first few years of children’s life affects early child development, and whether the effect is dependent on the family social economic status (SES) when a child was born. This study aims to address this gap.

Methods

The data used in the analyses are derived from three waves of the China Family Panel Studies (CFPS), collected in 2010, 2012 and 2014. A number of early childhood development outcomes are assessed: height, childhood illness, pre-primary school enrollment, social behavioral development and intermediate outcomes including cognitive stimulation and breastfeeding duration. Capitalizing on the longitudinal nature of the CFPS, we address the complexity and dynamic processes of family migration strategies by distinguishing various types of migration, taking into account of timing, intensity and cumulative of exposure to parental migration. An interaction term between initial SES and various independent variables was used to test differential impact.

Results

By age 5, over 52% of rural children experienced being left-behind by at least one parent. Compared to children never experienced parental migration, outmigration of mother is associated with 0.17 lower probability of being breastfed for at least 6 months (p<0.05). Experience being left-behind by both parents is negatively associated with linear growth (p<0.1), and longer exposure is more detrimental. Experienced parental migration during age 0-1 is associated with higher likelihood of being ill in the preceding 4 weeks (p<0.1). For ECD outcomes of preschool enrollment, social behavior score and early cognitive stimulation, we found significant interaction between initial family SES and ever experienced both parent migration; and between initial family SES and cumulative exposure to both parent migration for childhood illness, early cognitive stimulation and preschool enrollment.

Conclusion

Overall, children experienced parental migration exhibit few significant differences on ECD outcomes relative to children constantly living with both parents. For children from the poorest families migration of both parents increases the chance of their children to get pre-primary school education, it has not, however, benefited their physical or social behavioral development. Contrary to the hope of most migrants, labor migration confers little significant advantage to their left-behind children.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Open Access

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Comments

Poster to be presented at GW Annual Research Days 2017.

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Parental Migration and Early Childhood Development in Rural China

Background

In rural China, over 61 million children age 0-17 (28% of all rural children) are left behind by at least one parent seeking employment elsewhere. Little empirical evidence exists regarding how parental migration in the first few years of children’s life affects early child development, and whether the effect is dependent on the family social economic status (SES) when a child was born. This study aims to address this gap.

Methods

The data used in the analyses are derived from three waves of the China Family Panel Studies (CFPS), collected in 2010, 2012 and 2014. A number of early childhood development outcomes are assessed: height, childhood illness, pre-primary school enrollment, social behavioral development and intermediate outcomes including cognitive stimulation and breastfeeding duration. Capitalizing on the longitudinal nature of the CFPS, we address the complexity and dynamic processes of family migration strategies by distinguishing various types of migration, taking into account of timing, intensity and cumulative of exposure to parental migration. An interaction term between initial SES and various independent variables was used to test differential impact.

Results

By age 5, over 52% of rural children experienced being left-behind by at least one parent. Compared to children never experienced parental migration, outmigration of mother is associated with 0.17 lower probability of being breastfed for at least 6 months (p<0.05). Experience being left-behind by both parents is negatively associated with linear growth (p<0.1), and longer exposure is more detrimental. Experienced parental migration during age 0-1 is associated with higher likelihood of being ill in the preceding 4 weeks (p<0.1). For ECD outcomes of preschool enrollment, social behavior score and early cognitive stimulation, we found significant interaction between initial family SES and ever experienced both parent migration; and between initial family SES and cumulative exposure to both parent migration for childhood illness, early cognitive stimulation and preschool enrollment.

Conclusion

Overall, children experienced parental migration exhibit few significant differences on ECD outcomes relative to children constantly living with both parents. For children from the poorest families migration of both parents increases the chance of their children to get pre-primary school education, it has not, however, benefited their physical or social behavioral development. Contrary to the hope of most migrants, labor migration confers little significant advantage to their left-behind children.