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Does parental absence reduce cognitive achievements? Evidence from rural China

Hongliang Zhang, Jere Behrman, C. Simon Fan, Xiangdong Wei () and Junsen Zhang

Journal of Development Economics, 2014, vol. 111, issue C, 181-195

Abstract: Many children worldwide are left-behind by parents migrating for work — over 61 million in rural China alone, almost half of whom are left-behind by both parents. While previous literature considers impacts of one parent absent on educational inputs (e.g., study time, enrollment, schooling attainment), this study directly investigates impacts on children's learning (test scores) and distinguishes impacts of absence of one versus both parents. Dynamic panel methods that control for both unobserved individual heterogeneity and endogeneity in parental absence are used with data collected from rural China. The estimates indicate significant negative impacts of being left-behind by both parents on children's cognitive development, reducing their contemporary achievements by 5.4 percentile points for math and 5.1 percentile points for Chinese, but much smaller insignificant impacts of being left-behind by one parent. Cross-sectional evidence indicates that only absence of both parents is associated with substantially lower family inputs in after-school tutoring.

Keywords: Left-behind children; Migrating parents; Cognitive achievement; China (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2014
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