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Solution or isolation: Is boarding school a good solution for left-behind children in rural China?

Mengqi Liu and Kira M. Villa

China Economic Review, 2020, vol. 61, issue C

Abstract: In recent decades, rural China has experienced a rapid increase in boarding school enrollment rates and in the population of left-behind children (LBC) (i.e., rural children whose parents migrate to urban areas for work). LBC tend to be worse off in numerous dimensions. At 61 million, China has the world's largest population of LBC. As it provides a different residential environment, boarding school can potentially exacerbate or mitigate the negative effects of parental migration. Using nationally representative data on Chinese families, we estimate the impact of parental migration and boarding school on child outcomes in cognition and physical and mental health. We find that while boarding school has no effect on LBC physical and mental health, it substantially improves performance on achievement tests for both LBC and non-LBC. Policies aimed at improving boarding school conditions in China, may improve not only cognitive outcomes, but also child physical and mental well-being.

Keywords: Left-behind children; Boarding school; Rural China; Propensity score matching; Oster bound (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O15 I21 J13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1016/j.chieco.2020.101456

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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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