China & World Economy / 45–59, Vol. 25, No. 2, 2017
Effect of Parental Migration on the Academic Performance
of Left-behind Middle School Students in Rural China
Lili Li, Lei Wang, Jingchun Nie
China’s rapid development and urbanization over the past 30 years have caused large numbers of rural residents to migrate to urban areas in search of work. This has created a generation of children who remain behind in rural areas when their parents migrate for work. Previous research has found mixed impacts of parental migration on the educational achievement of left-behind children (LBC), perhaps because of methodological deficiencies and lack of recognition of the heterogeneity of this population of children. Our study attempts to examine the impact of six types of parental migration on the academic achievement of a rural junior high school sample. Our study uses a panel of 7148 junior high school students to implement a difference-in-difference analysis and finds that parental migration has a negative and significant impact on the academic achievement of junior high school students. Our study suggests that the Chinese Government should implement measures to dismantle barriers to the human capital accumulation of LBC to ensure sustainable economic growth and human capital development in China.
Key words: academic performance, left-behind children, parental migration, rural China
JEL codes: I20; I25; I28