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Does wealth matter? An assessment of China's rural-urban migration on the education of left-behind children

Guanyi Yang and Cynthia Bansak

China Economic Review, 2020, vol. 59, issue C

Abstract: This paper decomposes the impact of parental migration on the education of children left behind. In particular, we examine whether children are enrolled in school on a timely basis according to their age when their parents are away. We found both theoretical and empirical evidence to support that parental migration generates a strong positive impact on timely enrollment if a child is from a less wealthy background. However, the effect decreases with family wealth, and reverses after reaching a threshold; we find this point using family house size as our proxy and the turning point occurs at a moderate size of approximately 148 square meters. In addition, we find a compensating effect that migrants tend to spend more on a child's education investment to offset for the loss of parental time care. Lastly, we found the overall impact of parental migration is negative on the timely enrollment of child. Thus, with the important heterogeneities attributed to wealth, our results suggest that the left behind children of more affluent parents may be pushed into worse human capital outcomes; given the rapid development of China, it may be the case that the current cohort of left behind children is less likely to be enrolled in school than earlier cohorts.

Keywords: Wealth heterogeneity; Human capital; China; Rural-urban migration; Absenteeism; Parental inputs; Left-behind children (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1016/j.chieco.2019.101365

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China Economic Review is currently edited by B.M. Fleisher, K. X. D. Huang, M.E. Lovely, Y. Wen, X. Zhang and X. Zhu

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