UC Davis Agricultural and Resource Economics

Xiaoman Luo, University of California, Davis

Does Parental Out-migration Benefit Left-behind Children’s Schooling Outcomes? — Evidence from Rural China

Date and Location

Tuesday, April 21, 2020, 4:10 PM - 5:30 PM
Online Meeting, Zoom



In this paper I investigate how parental out-migration affects the schooling outcomes of children left behind in rural China. In particular, I consider three important and widely-studied mechanisms that migration could affect left-behind children’s school performance: direct effect through parental accompaniment, and indirect effect through child’s study time, and education spending.The major contribution of this paper is to establish a theoretical framework to clarify different pathways involved in the effect of parental migration on child’s schooling performance, and to empirically quantify the importance of these pathways on child schooling in rural China. Applying the model on a household-level data from 9 Provinces, I find that parental migration has significant negative total effect on left-behind children’s langauge scores and math scores, and their language scores are more negatively affected. Further decomposing the total effect into the three channels, I find that the direct effect of migration through parental accompaniment is largely
negative, and the indirect effects through study time and income are generally negative as well, but are smaller than the direct effect. Subgroup analysis by child’s gender shows consistent findings, but it calls attention to severe un-
derinvestment in left-behind girls’ education in rural China. The results from this paper can help policymakers design and implement education policy in rural China by accounting for the specific barriers to education presented by the high degree of parental migration.

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