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Abstract

Nearly a quarter of all children under the age of two in China are left behind in the countryside as parents migrate to urban areas for work. We use a longitudinal survey following young children and their caregivers from 6 to 30 months of age to estimate the effects of maternal migration on development, health, and nutritional outcomes in the critical first stages of life. We find significant negative effects on cognitive development and indicators of dietary quality. Taken together with research showing long-term consequences of early life insults, our results imply that, although the reallocation of labor from rural to urban areas has been a key driver of China’s prosperity in recent decades, it may entail a significant human capital cost for the next generation.

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... nannies). Several studies of China find grandparental care is negatively correlated with child welfare and health outcomes (Ye and Pan, 2011;Mu and de Brauw, 2015;Yue, Sylvia and Bai, 2016). This paper extends these studies by investigating whether there are adverse effects of grandparental care on early childhood development in China. ...
... Within the rural sample, early childhood development of left-behind children is significantly delayed, while for those who are living with parent(s) the negative effect of grandparental care is mitigated for talking, counting and toilet training. These findings are consistent with previous studies on left-behind children in rural areas in China (Chen et al., 2009;Mu and de Brauw, 2015;Ye and Pan, 2011;Yue et al., 2016). ...
... We also estimate the second stage using the 2SPS method and the results are similar. Joint significance test of the IVs in the first stages and the covariances between each IV and naïve estimates residuals are reported in Table 4. in the country (Yue et al., 2016(Yue et al., , 2017Zhao, 2017;Zhou et al., 2018). One limitation of our study is that we have only looked at the consequences in terms of the timing of key milestone achievements in early childhood. ...
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This paper examines whether childcare choice affects the early childhood development of children aged 7–59 months. Using the data from Chinese Family Panel Studies, we look at household choices between parental and grandparental cares and the timing of four key early life achievements – walking, talking, counting and toilet training. We conceptualize early childhood development within a household production model, which enables us to identify the impacts of childcare. Our results suggest that compared with parental care, grandparental care delays the achievement of all four outcome measures. Grandparental care is particularly disadvantageous for children who are ‘left‐behind’ by migrant parents.
... The type of parental migration is an important factor in determining the experience of left-behind children. For example, children whose mothers migrated suffer more because mothers are perceived as the most dedicated caregiver in the family (Wen and Li, 2016;Wen and Lin, 2012;Yue et al., 2016). In addition, the effects of parental migration on children's physical health outcomes may emerge later rather than immediately (Dannefer, 2003;DiPrete and Eirich, 2006;Kanaiaupuni and Donato, 1999), highlighting the importance of distinguishing parents' current migration status, previous migration experiences, and migration duration. ...
... Therefore, the detrimental impacts of parental migration on children's anemia status may be offset by the benefits from migration. Some empirical studies show no significant association between parental migration and children's anemia (Yue et al., 2016;Zhou et al., 2015). In some cases, the beneficial impact is more evident than negatives. ...
... Mother's migration, however, could impact children's health in different ways. On one hand, mother-only migration could be more harmful to children's health than father-only migration since mothers are the most dedicated caregiver in a family (Wen and Li, 2016;Wen and Lin, 2012;Yue et al., 2016). Wen and Lin (2012) reveal that left-behind children whose only mothers migrated tend to have more unhealthy behaviors and suffer from significant disadvantages compared to others. ...
Article
Previous literature on parental migration and children’s health outcomes mainly focuses on subjective measures and often omits the selectivity issue. Taking advantage of a unique nationally representative longitudinal dataset from the China Health and Nutrition Survey, this paper uses anemia status as an objective measure of children’s health outcomes and examines the different effects of parents’ current migration status, migration history, and migration duration. The results show that father’s migration does not harm children’s physical health, especially for children in rural areas, for whom father’s migration decreases the likelihood of being anemic; while mother’s migration increases the likelihood of being anemic. Importantly, children with return migrant mothers are less likely to experience anemia. We also find that the longer the father migrated, the better the child’s health, but mother’s longer migration duration is more detrimental. Our findings highlight the gender dimension in the migration story and indicate that policymakers should encourage the return migration of migrant mothers.
... So, where do rural individuals in China live? Although a significant portion of China's rural infants and toddlers reside in western China rural communities (26%), the majority of them live elsewhere [30]. A considerable percentage of rural infants and toddlers also live in central China rural communities (29%) and migrant communities (13%). ...
... A considerable percentage of rural infants and toddlers also live in central China rural communities (29%) and migrant communities (13%). Taken together with infants and toddlers in resettlement villages (1.4%), over two-thirds (69%) of rural children and almost half of all of China's youth (49% = 69% of 71% of China's total number of children who have permanent rural residency [30]) grow up in one of these four kinds of communities (western rural communities, resettlement migration communities, central rural communities, or migrant communities). Table 1 provides a description of the geographical locations of the sample households. ...
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Previous research has found that there are high rates of developmental delays among infants and toddlers in rural areas of China. Caregiver mental health problems might be one significant predictor of developmental delays among infants and toddlers, as has been found in other areas of the world. One way that the mental health of caregivers could affect early childhood development is through its effect on parenting practices. In this study, we used data from four major subpopulations of rural China to measure the correlation of caregiver mental health problems with the developmental outcomes of infants and toddlers. To do so, the study used the Bayley Scales of Infant Development III (BSID III) to examine the rates of developmental delays among 2514 rural infants/toddlers aged 6–30 months old. The results of the testing demonstrate that 48% of the sample’s infants/toddlers have cognitive delays; 52% have language delays; 53% have social-emotional delays; and 30% have motor delays. The data collection team also assessed caregiver mental health by using the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS-21) questionnaire. According to the findings, 39% of caregivers in the sample have symptoms of at least one kind of mental health problem (depression, anxiety, or stress). We also found that most caregivers do not engage in positive parenting practices, while a significant share of caregivers engage in negative parenting practices. The statistical analysis found that showing signs of mental health problems is significantly and negatively associated with infant/toddler developmental outcomes. The study also found that caregivers who show signs of mental health problems are significantly less likely to engage in interactive parenting practices. The study confirms that society needs to pay more attention to caregiver mental health problems in order to improve infant/toddler developmental outcomes in rural China and increase human capital accumulation in China as a whole.
... Research has found that the intellectual learning of young children in rural China has been significantly impacted by maternal migration (Yue et al., 2016). As a result, grandmothers tend to provide less care to children as compared to real mothers. ...
Article
The parent to child relationship plays a very important role in the early development of a child. This paper reviews the recent literature on the early childhood development (ECD) among rural children of age 0-3 years and briefly discusses the factors responsible for the delays in ECD. Recent literature on ECD in rural China has found high rates of delays in cognitive and non-cognitive development of young children and has highlighted poor parenting practices and nutrition as the primary causes of these delays. Appropriate ECD interventions are needed to improve child development in poor rural areas of China.
... This contradicts the existing literature, which has overall demonstrated a negative correlation between SES and mental health problems [42]; it also contradicts the negative relation of parental education levels to learning anxiety in our sample. This may be explained by the correlation between parental out-migration and higher SES in rural China [43]. ...
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Although children living in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) account for 90% of the global population of children, depression, and anxiety among children in LMICs have been understudied. This study examines the prevalence of depression and anxiety and their associations with biological and psychosocial factors among children across China, with a focus on rural areas. We conducted a large-scale epidemiological study of depression and anxiety among 53,421 elementary and junior high school-aged children across China. The results show that 20% are at risk for depression, 6% are at risk for generalized anxiety, and 68% are at risk for at least one type of anxiety. Girls and junior high school students show a higher risk for both depression and anxiety symptoms, while socioeconomic status has varying associations to depression and anxiety symptoms. Our results also show consistent correlations between depression and anxiety symptoms and standard math test scores. These findings underscore the importance of identification, prevention, and treatment of youth depression and anxiety in underdeveloped areas. As China constitutes 15% of the global population of children under age 18, this study offers valuable information to the field of global mental health.
... We further examined children's test scores by region. The literature points to an evident regional disparity in educational attainment in China due to the highly uneven development, with children in western China lagging significantly behind those in eastern and central China (Qian and Smyth, 2008;Yue et al., 2016). As expected, children from the western region fared significantly worse than their counterparts in other regions on both tests ( Figure 6). ...
Article
Early childhood is a crucial period for human development that has long-term implications for one’s life trajectories. During the years before formal schooling, brain size and structures, as well as cognitive abilities, undergo rapid development. Children’s cognitive abilities develop by leaps and bounds and show great malleability. Cognitive development during early childhood exerts a long-lasting influence on children’s life chances in adulthood. In China, however, there is no established reliable early childhood achievement test that can be used in a study. This study validates an achievement test for Chinese preschoolers. We analyze data from a nationally representative sample of children aged three to six who participated in the Zhang-Yeung Test of Achievement for Chinese Children (ZY-TACC) in 2012. The instrument consists of a 28-item verbal test and a 24-item numeracy test. Our evaluations indicate a satisfactory level of difficulty, as well as high internal consistency and reliability. This instrument exhibits ample ability to distinguish among children of different ages and varying family backgrounds in ways consistent with previous literature. Children’s test scores are also found to correlate in the expected direction with their behavioral indicators. We demonstrate that the ZY-TACC is a psychometrically robust, culturally and contextually appropriate instrument for assessing Chinese preschool children’s achievement. The instrument can make a significant contribution to research on early childhood development in China.
... Despite the great reduction in the risk of macronutrient deficiency, all rural children were still at high risk of micronutrient deficiency such as anemia. In addition, a growing body of literature highlights the need for special attention to the negative effects of parental migration on children's cognitive and socialemotional development, especially when both parents migrate [40][41][42]. ...
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Background: More than one-third of children under 3 years old are left behind at home due to parental migration in rural China, and we know very little about early childhood nutrition of left-behind children (LBC) because of the dearth of research. This study examined the impact of parental migration on early childhood nutrition of LBC in rural China. Methods: We used repeat cross-sectional data of rural children aged 6–35 months in six counties of northern and southern China, who participated in two surveys in 2013 and 2016 respectively. The length, weight, and hemoglobin concentration were measured by trained health‑care workers blinded to parental migration status. Generalized linear regressions and multivariate logistic regressions were employed to explore the association between parental migration and child nutritional outcomes at each time point. Results: 2,336 and 2,210 children aged 6–35 months were enrolled in 2013 and 2016 surveys, respectively. The risk of stunting, underweight, and wasting among the children decreased from 2013 to 2016. Children of migrant fathers performed as well as or better than children of non-migrants on these indicators. Children of migrant parents performed slightly worse in 2013, but equal or slightly better in 2016 on these indicators compared with children of non-migrants and migrant fathers. Children aged 6–17 months of migrant parents had a significantly lower risk of anemia than those living with their mothers or with both parents. Conclusions: Parental migration is not detrimental and even beneficial to early childhood nutrition of LBC in rural China. Programs for LBC are recommended to continue to focus on nutrition but pay more attention to other important health issues.
... Despite the great reduction in the risk of macronutrient deficiency, all rural children were still at high risk of micronutrient deficiency such as anemia. In addition, a growing body of literature highlights the need for special attention to the negative effects of parental migration on children's cognitive and socialemotional development, especially when both parents migrate [40][41][42]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Background: More than one-third of children under 3 years old are left behind at home due to parental migration in rural China, and we know very little about early childhood nutrition of left-behind children (LBC) because of the dearth of research. This study examined the association between parental migration and early childhood nutrition of LBC in rural China. Methods: We used repeated cross-sectional data of rural children aged 6-35 months who participated in two surveys in six counties of northern and southern China in 2013 and 2016 respectively. The length, weight, and hemoglobin concentration were measured by trained health-care workers blinded to parental migration status. Stunting, underweight, wasting, and anemia were identified with the standards recommended by WHO. Generalized linear regressions and multivariate logistic regressions were employed to explore the association between parental migration and these nutritional outcomes at each time point. Results: Two thousand three hundred thirty-six and 2210 children aged 6-35 months were enrolled in 2013 and 2016, respectively. The results show a reduction of the risks of stunting, underweight, and wasting from 2013 (16.4, 8.5, and 3.5%, respectively) to 2016 (12.1, 4.0, and 1.5%, respectively) but highlight a constantly and alarmingly high risk of anemia among these children (44.8% in 2013 and 43.8% in 2016). Children with migrant fathers performed as well as or better than those with non-migrants on these indicators. Children with migrant parents performed slightly worse in 2013, but equal or slightly superior in 2016 on these indicators compared with children with non-migrants and migrant fathers. Children aged 6-17 months with migrant parents had a significantly lower risk of anemia than those living with their mothers or with both parents (43.1% vs. 63.6% and 61.5 in 2013, and 42.5 vs. 60.1 and 66.2% in 2016), even after controlling for children's sociodemographic characteristics. Conclusions: Parental migration may be not detrimental and even beneficial to early childhood nutrition of LBC in rural China. Continued nutritional support is needed for all rural children, especially interventions for preventing micronutrient deficiency. Programs for LBC are recommended to continue to focus on nutrition but pay more attention to other important health issues.
... In contrast, children in rural China are clearly under-stimulated. According to Sylvia et al. (2017), even when children are 18-30 months old, a large proportion of parents are not spending time in activities that are thought to be key to stimulating the development of infants and toddlers. For example, less than 15% of caregivers regularly tell stories to their children; less than five percent read to their children. ...
Article
Social interactions in infancy have implications for long-term outcomes. This study uses data from a sample of 1412 rural Chinese infants aged 6–12 and 24–30 months to examine the relationship between peer interactions and cognitive development. Over 75% of the infants in this sample had less than three peers and around 20% had no peers in both periods. The prevalence of cognitive delays is high within this sample and increases as infants age. Multivariate analysis reveals that peer interaction is significantly associated with cognitive development. Heterogeneous analysis suggests that peer interactions and mental development may be related to the child’s primary caregiver and the distance from the child’s household to the center of their village.
... that the two populations exhibit comparable rates of cognitive delays (the difference is statistically indistinguishable from zero; see table A2). However, in another paper that two of the coauthors of this article have written, which takes advantage of the panel nature of the data set to track IQ (or cognition) of an infant/ toddler over time, 48 it was found that when the mother leaves home and the grandmother becomes the primary caregiver of the child, the IQ of the child drops sharply and the decline is statistically significant. In other words, there is causal evidence that becoming left-behind leads to a large and negative effect on a toddler's level of cognitive development. ...
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This article explores the problem of cognitive delays among toddlers in rural China and the role of their caregivers in producing low levels of cognition (i.e., low IQ). According to the results of a well-tested international scale of child development, the Bayley Scales of Infant Development (BSID), cognitive delays are alarmingly common, and nearly half the toddlers in our sample score an IQ of less than 84 on the BSID test (more than one standard deviation below the mean). In analyzing the source of this, we find that poor parenting—for example, not reading to, singing with, or engaging in stimulating play with one’s children—is closely associated with these delays. Even though mothers (as opposed to grandmother caregivers), and especially more educated mothers, are more likely to follow good parenting practices, quality parenting is rare overall. We seek to find out why so many young children appear to be neglected when it comes to modern parenting practices. We empirically rule out the hypoth...
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It has become increasingly common for young children to be taken care of by multiple caregivers in China after the socio-economic reforms. Complex migration patterns and high female labour force participation have led to children receiving care from various individuals in different contexts. However, little is known about how childcare arrangements are associated with child health well-being. This study examines various early childhood caregivers and their influences on children’s physical health in China. Using data from the China Health and Nutrition Survey (CHNS 1991–2011) with 3,470 children aged 2 to 6, we first identified different types of childcare arrangements in and outside of the household based on who provides the care, where they provide the care, and the intensity of the care. Then we examined the relationship between various childcare arrangements and health outcomes for children. Overall, household members undertook early childhood care tasks in China, with an increase in grandparents as primary caregivers between 1991 and 2011. The proportion of children receiving formal childcare fluctuated around 20% during this period. The findings suggest that: 1) primary caregiver in the household other than parents is not associated with undesirable physical health outcomes; 2) formal childcare outside the household is associated with higher height and lower BMI scores; 3) primary caregivers in the household, particular grandparents, moderate the association between childcare arrangements outside the household and children’s health outcomes. It yields an implication that early childhood care policies incorporating multiple caregivers would benefit children’s well-being in China.
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Little attention has been paid to the role that low levels of cognitive development (or IQ) play among both left-behind children (LBCs) and children living with parents (CLPs) in the context of poor educational attainment in rural China. In this paper, we examine how general cognitive abilities contribute to the academic achievement gains of both LBCs and CLPs in poor areas of rural China. We measure the general cognitive ability of the 4,780 sample students using the Raven’s Standard Progressive Matrices (Raven IQ) and assess academic achievement using a curriculum-based mathematics exam. We find that IQ and left-behind status predict achievement gains for the average student. Among low-IQ students, however, left-behind status does not correlate with a change in achievement, suggesting that the migration of parents does not immediately/automatically translate into a loss of academic achievement for students with delays in their general cognitive ability.
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Background: More than one-third of children under 3 years old are left behind at home due to parental migration in rural China, and we know very little about early childhood nutrition of left-behind children (LBC) because of the dearth of research. This study examined the association between parental migration and early childhood nutrition of LBC in rural China. Methods: We used repeated cross-sectional data of rural children aged 6–35 months who participated in two surveys in six counties of northern and southern China in 2013 and 2016 respectively. The length, weight, and hemoglobin concentration were measured by trained health‑care workers blinded to parental migration status. Stunting, underweight, wasting, and anemia were identified with the standards recommended by WHO. Generalized linear regressions and multivariate logistic regressions were employed to explore the association between parental migration and these nutritional outcomes at each time point. Results: 2,336 and 2,210 children aged 6–35 months were enrolled in 2013 and 2016, respectively. The results show a reduction of the risks of stunting, underweight, and wasting from 2013 (16.4%, 8.5%, and 3.5%, respectively) to 2016 (12.1%, 4.0%, and 1.5%, respectively) but highlight a constantly and alarmingly high risk of anemia among these children (44.8% in 2013 and 43.8% in 2016). Children with migrant fathers performed as well as or better than those with non-migrants on these indicators. Children with migrant parents performed slightly worse in 2013, but equal or slightly superior in 2016 on these indicators compared with children with non-migrants and migrant fathers. Children aged 6–17 months with migrant parents had a significantly lower risk of anemia than those living with their mothers or with both parents (43.1% vs. 63.6% and 61.5 in 2013, and 42.5 vs. 60.1% and 66.2% in 2016), even after controlling for children’s sociodemographic characteristics. Conclusions: Parental migration may be not detrimental and even beneficial to early childhood nutrition of LBC in rural China. Continued nutritional support is needed for all rural children, especially interventions for preventing micronutrient deficiency. Programs for LBC are recommended to continue to focus on nutrition but pay more attention to other important health issues.
Preprint
Full-text available
Background: More than one-third of children under 3 years old are left behind at home due to parental migration in rural China, and we know very little about early childhood nutrition of left-behind children (LBC) because of the dearth of research. This study examined the impact of parental migration on early childhood nutrition of LBC in rural China. Methods: We used repeat cross-sectional data of rural children aged 6–35 months who participated in two surveys in six counties of northern and southern China in 2013 and 2016 respectively. The length, weight, and hemoglobin concentration were measured by trained health‑care workers blinded to parental migration status. Stunting, underweight, wasting, and anemia were identified with the standards recommended by WHO. Generalized linear regressions and multivariate logistic regressions were employed to explore the association between parental migration and these nutritional outcomes at each time point. Results: 2,336 and 2,210 children aged 6–35 months were enrolled in 2013 and 2016 surveys, respectively. The results show a reduction of the risks of stunting, underweight, and wasting from 2013 (16.4%, 8.5%, and 3.5%, respectively) to 2016 (12.1%, 4.0%, and 1.5%, respectively) but highlight a constantly and alarmingly high risk of anemia among these children (44.8% in 2013 and 43.8% in 2016). Children with migrant fathers performed as well as or better than those with non-migrants on these indicators. Children with migrant parents performed slightly worse in 2013, but equal or slightly superior in 2016 on these indicators compared with children with non-migrants and migrant fathers. Children aged 6–17 months with migrant parents had a significantly lower risk of anemia than those living with their mothers or with both parents (43.1% vs. 63.6% and 61.5 in 2013, and 42.5 vs. 60.1% and 66.2% in 2016), even after controlling for children’s sociodemographic characteristics. Conclusions: Parental migration may be not detrimental and even beneficial to early childhood nutrition of LBC in rural China. Programs for LBC are recommended to continue to focus on nutrition but pay more attention to other important health issues.
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China's rapid development and urbanization have induced large numbers of rural residents to migrate from their homes to urban areas in search of better job opportunities. Parents typically leave their children behind with a caregiver, creating a new, potentially vulnerable subpopulation of left-behind children in rural areas. A growing number of policies and nongovernmental organization efforts target these children. The primary objective of this study was to examine whether leftbehind children are really the most vulnerable and in need of special programs. Pulling data from a comprehensive data set covering 141,000 children in ten provinces (from twenty-seven surveys conducted between 2009 and 2013), we analyzed nine indicators of health, nutrition, and education.We found that for all nine indicators, left-behind children performed as well as or better than children living with both parents. However, both groups of children performed poorly on most of these indicators. Based on these findings, we recommend that special programs designed to improve health, nutrition, and education among left-behind children be expanded to cover all children in rural China. © 2015 Project HOPE-The People-to-People Health Foundation, Inc.
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In the last 30 years, China has witnessed one of the largest rural-to-urban migrations in human history, with many children left behind due to parental migration. We present a meta-analytic review of empirical studies on Chinese children’s rural-to-urban migration and on rural children left behind due to parental migration. We examine how these events relate to children’s emotional, social, and academic developmental outcomes. We include publications in English and in Chinese to uncover and quantify a part of the research literature that has been inaccessible to most Western scholars in the field of child and family studies. Overall, both migrant children and children left behind by migrant parents in China show significantly less favorable functioning across domains than other Chinese children. It appears that, similar to processes found in other parts of the world, the experience of economic and acculuration stress, and disrupted parent-child relations, constitute a risk for non-optimal child functioning in the Chinese context. Further, we found evidence for publication bias against studies showing less favorable development for migrant children and children left behind. We discuss the results in terms of challenges to Chinese society and to future empirical research on Chinese family life.
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The rapid economic growth in China is accompanied by a large scale rural-to-urban migration, but over time more children are left behind rural areas. This paper studies how the overweight and underweight status of the rural children is associated with the out migration of others in their household. We find that migration is related to different nutritional outcomes for the left-behind children. The older children (aged 7-12) are more likely to be underweight; the younger (aged 2-6) are less likely to be overweight if left behind without the care of a grandparent. We also find evidence that the remaining adult household members spent less time preparing meals, whereas older children take up more household chores.
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The core methods in today's econometric toolkit are linear regression for statistical control, instrumental variables methods for the analysis of natural experiments, and differences-in-differences methods that exploit policy changes. In the modern experimentalist paradigm, these techniques address clear causal questions such as: Do smaller classes increase learning? Should wife batterers be arrested? How much does education raise wages?Mostly Harmless Econometricsshows how the basic tools of applied econometrics allow the data to speak.In addition to econometric essentials,Mostly Harmless Econometricscovers important new extensions--regression-discontinuity designs and quantile regression--as well as how to get standard errors right. Joshua Angrist and J rn-Steffen Pischke explain why fancier econometric techniques are typically unnecessary and even dangerous. The applied econometric methods emphasized in this book are easy to use and relevant for many areas of contemporary social science.An irreverent review of econometric essentialsA focus on tools that applied researchers use mostChapters on regression-discontinuity designs, quantile regression, and standard errorsMany empirical examplesA clear and concise resource with wide applications.
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Migration is widely known as one of the main ways of alleviating poverty in developing countries, including China. However, migration itself is not costless. In recent years, there is an emerging concern about the effect of migration on the educational achievement of the children of migrants in China since most of the young children of school age of the migrants are being left in the village when one or both of their parents move to the city to work. This paper examines the effect of the migration activities of the father and/or mother on the educational performance of elementary school students (First to Fifth grade). With a dataset that collected from a survey designed specifically to examine changes in school performance of children before and after their parents left the village to migrate to the city we use Difference-in-Difference and, propensity score matching approaches. Although the grades of the children from some migrants family are sometimes lower than those from non-migrants family (in the time period before and after migration), somewhat surprisingly, we find that there is no significant negative effect of migration itself on the childrenÂ’s school performance. In fact, in some cases (e.g., after the father migrates), performance improves. Our paper also demonstrates and explains the interaction effects of migration from wealth and household composition.
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We investigated the effects of early maternal employment on children's cognitive outcomes, using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth on 1,872 children who can be followed from birth to age 7 or 8. We found some persistent adverse effects of first-year maternal employment and some positive effects of second- and third-year maternal employment on cognitive outcomes for non-Hispanic white children, but not for African American or Hispanic children. These effects are present even after we controlled for a range of individual and family characteristics that affect child development, including those that are likely to be correlated with maternal employment, such as breast-feeding and the use of nonmaternal child care. Controlling for family fixed effects reduces the effects of early maternal employment on some cognitive outcomes but not on others.
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Increased levels of pup licking/grooming and arched-back nursing by rat mothers over the first week of life alter the epigenome at a glucocorticoid receptor gene promoter in the hippocampus of the offspring. Differences in the DNA methylation pattern between the offspring of High and Low licking/grooming--arched-back mothers emerge over the first week of life, are reversed with cross-fostering, persist into adulthood and are associated with altered histone acetylation and transcription factor (NGFI-A) binding to the glucocorticoid receptor promoter. Central infusion of the adult offspring with the histone deacetylase inhibitor trichostatin A removes the previously defined epigenomic group differences in histone acetylation, DNA methylation, NGFI-A binding, glucocorticoid receptor expression, and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal responses to stress, thus suggesting a causal relation between the epigenomic state, glucocorticoid receptor expression and the effects of maternal care on stress responses in the offspring. These findings demonstrate that an epigenomic state of a gene can be established through a behavioral mode of programming and that in spite of the inherent stability of this epigenomic mark, it is dynamic and potentially reversible.
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Migration economics is a dynamic, fast-growing research area with significant and rising policy relevance. While its scope is continually extending, there is no authoritative treatment of its various branches in one volume. Written by 44 leading experts in the field, this carefully commissioned and refereed Handbook brings together 28 state-of-the-art chapters on migration research and related issues. © Amelie F. Constant and Klaus F. Zimmermann 2013. All rights reserved.
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Child health is not only a key indicator of overall quality of public health, but also vital for the future economic development of a country. In recent years, with unprecedented urbanization of China, many children in rural areas have been left behind while their parents migrate to urban areas to seek employment opportunities. Thus, it is considerably important for us to understand the effects of lack of parental care on the health status of left-behind children. Using data from China Health and Nutrition Survey (CHNS), we find that the left-behind children in rural areas are significantly 20.0% more likely to get sick or develop chronic conditions than those living with their parents. We also find that girls are more vulnerable than boys and younger children are more vulnerable than older children to lack of parental care.
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This paper explores the effects of a mother’s migration on her children’s well-being. I use children with migrant fathers as the main control group to separately identify the effects coming from remittances from those resulting from parental absence. Exploiting demand shocks as an exogenous source of variation in the probability that the mother migrates, I find suggestive evidence that children of migrant mothers are more likely to lag behind in school compared to children with migrant fathers. Controlling for remittances does not change this result, supporting the hypothesis that a mother’s absence has a stronger detrimental effect than a father’s.
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SUMMARY This paper presents a model that provides conditions under which a causal interpretation can be given to the association between childhood parental employment and subsequent educational attainments of children. The key parameter comes from theconditional demand function for children's future earning capacity. Its identification rests on having data on siblings and assumptions about the timing of parents' knowledge of their children's endowments. In addition to sibling differences, the useof a fixed-effects instrumental-variables estimator identifies the parameter under weaker conditions. Empirical analysis informed by the model reveals a negative and significant effect on the child's educational attainment of the months of the mother's full-time employment when the child was aged 0–5. The effect of the mother's part-time employment is smaller and less well determined, but again negative. These results suggest that the substitution effect of the mother's employment dominates the income effects. Stronger adverse effects are found for children of less-educated mothers. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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This paper addresses the effects of migration on families left behind and offers new evidence on the impact of migration on elderly parents. After discussing the identification issues involved in estimation, I review the literature on the effects of migration on the education and health of non-migrant children as well as the labor supply of non-migrant spouses. Finally, I address the impact of adult child migration on contributions toward non-migrant parents as well as the effects on parental health. Results show that elderly parents receive lower time contributions from all of their children when one child migrates.
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This analysis of the impact of internal migration on the time allocation patterns of the left-behind elderly and children in rural China, 1997–2006, contributes to the literature on changes in the well-being of the left-behind population. Based upon the China Health and Nutrition Survey, the multivariate analysis demonstrates that the migration of household members increases the time spent on farm work and domestic work by the left-behind elderly and children. Migration has a striking gender differentiated impact, with the increase in work time being greater for elderly women and girls than elderly men and boys.
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This paper investigates the role that children play in the migration decisions of Chinese women. The presence of children of various ages is hypothesized to affect the timing of migration, the length of migration, and the nature of migration in terms of who goes along. In addition, we also investigate whether the sex of the children affects migration decisions. Results indicate that whether one's husband ever migrated has a positive effect on migrating before childbirth. Return timing is strongly linked to the age of the child. Many mothers return to rural areas around the time that the child begins formal schooling. We also find that women who have given birth to a boy are significantly less likely to migrate after childbirth but more likely to take the boy with her if she does migrate.
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This chapter seeks to set out what Economists have learned about the effects of early childhood influences on later life outcomes, and about ameliorating the effects of negative influences. We begin with a brief overview of the theory which illustrates that evidence of a causal relationship between a shock in early childhood and a future outcome says little about whether the relationship in question biological or immutable. We then survey recent work which shows that events before five years old can have large long term impacts on adult outcomes. Child and family characteristics measured at school entry do as much to explain future outcomes as factors that labor economists have more traditionally focused on, such as years of education. Yet while children can be permanently damaged at this age, an important message is that the damage can often be remediated. We provide a brief overview of evidence regarding the effectiveness of different types of policies to provide remediation. We conclude with a list of some of (the many) outstanding questions for future research. Hard-copy subscribers may access the tables for this paper here.
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This article investigates the long-term impact of early maternal employment on children's cognitive and behavioral outcomes. Non-Hispanic White and African American children aged 3 to 4 in the 1986 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth were followed longitudinally to see whether the effects that prior studies found at age 3 to 4 persist into the school-age years (ages 7 to 8) or whether those effects attenuate over time. The empirical results indicate that maternal employment in the 1st year of a child's life has significant negative effects on White children's cognitive outcomes. These effects persist to ages 7 or 8 for some children but not for others. We also found some negative effects of maternal employment in the 1st year on behavioral problems as assessed at age 7 or 8, but again these effects are found only for White children.
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Due to China’s restrictive household registration system and increasing educational costs tens of millions of internal labor migrants have difficulty enrolling their children in urban schools. As a result, many children are left behind in rural areas when their parents seek urban employment. Using data from two provinces in northeastern China we find that parental labor migration is associated with a .7 grade-level lag in educational attainment among girls. Given that our models control for educational costs and total consumption expenditure, we interpret this as resulting from a re-allocation of girls’ time towards home production in migrant households. KeywordsEducational attainment–Migration–Rural China
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Using a longitudinal survey from rural Guatemala, we examine the effect of an early childhood nutritional intervention on adult educational outcomes. An intent-to-treat model yields substantial effects of an experimental intervention that provided highly nutritious food supplements to children, a quarter century after it ended: increases of 1.2 grades completed for women and one quarter SD on standardised reading comprehension and non-verbal cognitive ability tests for both women and men. Two-stage least squares results that endogenise the actual supplement intakes corroborate these magnitudes. Improving the nutrient intakes of very young children can have substantial, long-term, educational consequences. Copyright © The Author(s). Journal compilation © Royal Economic Society 2009.
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Summary This paper provides unique evidence of the positive consequences of seasonal migration for investments in early childhood development. We analyze migration in a poor shock-prone border region in rural Nicaragua where it offers one of the main household income diversification and risk -coping strategies. IV estimates show, somewhat surprisingly, that shock-driven migration by mothers has a positive effect on early cognitive development. We attribute these findings to changes in income and to the intra-household empowerment gains resulting from mother's migration, which offset potential negative early childhood development effects from temporary lack of parenting.
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To explore and compare nutrition knowledge, attitudes and behaviours (KAB) between non-parent and parent caregivers of children under 7 years old in Chinese rural areas, and to identify the factors influencing their nutrition KAB. Face-to-face interviews were carried out with 1691 non-parent caregivers and 1670 parent caregivers in the selected study areas; multivariate logistic regression models were used to identify the factors influencing nutrition KAB in caregivers. The awareness rate of nutrition knowledge, the rate of positive attitudes and the rate of optimal behaviours in non-parent caregivers (52.2 %, 56.9 % and 37.7 %, respectively) were significantly lower than in the parent group (63.8 %, 62.1 % and 42.8 %, respectively). Multivariate logistic regression modelling showed that caregivers' family income and care will, and children's age and gender, were associated with caregivers' nutrition KAB after controlling the possible confounding variables (caregivers' age, gender, education and occupation). Non-parent caregivers had relatively poor nutrition KAB. Extra efforts and targeted education programmes aimed to improve rural non-parent caregivers' nutrition KAB are wanted and need to be emphasized.
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The effect of maternal employment on child development is examined using fixed effects models. Hausman tests suggest that ordinary least squares models produce biased and inconsistent estimates. Fixed effects results show that only one of three tests (PIAT math) was negatively affected by maternal hours and weeks worked in year 1 of the child's life. The PIAT reading score was negatively affected by weeks worked in year 1 but not hours worked in year 1. None of the tests were affected by weeks or hours worked in year 2. Finally, weeks worked in year 3 positively affected PIAT math scores.
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More mothers engage in marketplace work today than ever before, with over 33% returning to work by the time their child is 3 months old. This article identifies the effects of maternal marketplace work in the initial months of an infant's life on the child's cognitive development. Results suggest that such work in the first year of a child's life has detrimental effects. Where significant, the results also indicate negative effects of maternal employment in the child's first quarter of life. However, the negative effects of maternal marketplace work are partially offset by positive effects of increased family income.
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The growth literature from developing countries is reviewed to assess the extent to which stunting, a phenomenon of early childhood, can be reversed in later childhood and adolescence. The potential for catch-up growth increases as maturation is delayed and the growth period is prolonged. However, maturational delays in developing countries are usually less than two years, only enough to compensate for a small fraction of the growth retardation of early childhood. Follow-up studies find that subjects who remain in the setting in which they became stunted experience little or no catch-up in growth later in life. Improvements in living conditions, as through food supplementation or through adoption, trigger catch-up growth but do so more effectively in the very young. One study cautions that in older adopted subjects, accelerated growth may accelerate maturation, shorten the growth period and lead to short adult stature.
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Naturally occurring variations in maternal care alter the expression of genes that regulate behavioral and endocrine responses to stress, as well as hippocampal synaptic development. These effects form the basis for the development of stable, individual differences in stress reactivity and certain forms of cognition. Maternal care also influences the maternal behavior of female offspring, an effect that appears to be related to oxytocin receptor gene expression, and which forms the basis for the intergenerational transmission of individual differences in stress reactivity. Patterns of maternal care that increase stress reactivity in offspring are enhanced by stressors imposed on the mother. These findings provide evidence for the importance of parental care as a mediator of the effects of environmental adversity on neural development.
Article
Early life experiences shape an individual's physical and mental health across the lifespan. Not surprisingly, an upbringing that is associated with adversity can produce detrimental effects on health. A central theme that arises from studies in human and nonhuman species is that the effects of adversity are mediated by the interactions between a mother and her young. In this review we describe some of the long-term effects of maternal care on the offspring and we focus on the impact of naturally occurring variations in the behavior of female rats. Of particular interest are mothers that engage in high or low amounts of licking/grooming (LG) and arched-back nursing (ABN) of their pups, but do so within the normal range for this species. Such variations in LG-ABN can alter the function of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, and cognitive and emotional development by directly affecting the underlying neural mechanisms. At the heart of these mechanisms is gene expression. By studying the hippocampal glucocorticoid receptor gene, we have identified that maternal care regulates its expression by changing two processes: the acetylation of histones H3-K9, and the methylation of the NGFI-A consensus sequence on the exon 1(7) promoter. Sustained "maternal effects" appear elsewhere in biology, including plants, insects, and lizards, and may have evolved to program advantages in the environments that the offspring will likely face as adults. Given the importance of early life and parent-child interactions to later behavior, prevention and intervention programs should target this critical phase of development.
Article
Several micronutrients are required for adequate growth among children. However, it has been unclear as to which nutrient deficiencies contribute most often to growth faltering in populations at risk for poor nutrition and poor growth. Therefore, evidence from community-based, randomized, placebo-controlled, micronutrient supplementation trials was reviewed to determine which micronutrient deficiencies have been found to be causal to growth faltering. Although correction of growth-limiting nutrient deficiencies may be achieved through provision of pharmacological nutrient supplements, it also was of interest to review evidence for the use of animal source food supplements to improved growth among children in at-risk populations. There is strong evidence for the contribution of zinc deficiency to growth faltering among children; even mild to moderate zinc deficiency may affect growth. Vitamin A and iron deficiencies also have been demonstrated to cause growth faltering, however only when the deficiency state of these nutrients is severe. Several controlled, community-based intervention trials that have included animal source foods, either together with additional micronutrient supplements or with other supplemental food sources, have demonstrated positive growth responses among children. Three trials that used an animal source food alone (skim milk powder) also resulted in a positive growth response. However, the geographic scope of the latter three trials was limited, and it remains unclear to what extent supplemental animal source foods alone and which types of animal source foods can be used to improve growth among children in at-risk populations.
Article
In this paper we review the associations between maternal and child undernutrition with human capital and risk of adult diseases in low-income and middle-income countries. We analysed data from five long-standing prospective cohort studies from Brazil, Guatemala, India, the Philippines, and South Africa and noted that indices of maternal and child undernutrition (maternal height, birthweight, intrauterine growth restriction, and weight, height, and body-mass index at 2 years according to the new WHO growth standards) were related to adult outcomes (height, schooling, income or assets, offspring birthweight, body-mass index, glucose concentrations, blood pressure). We undertook systematic reviews of studies from low-income and middle-income countries for these outcomes and for indicators related to blood lipids, cardiovascular disease, lung and immune function, cancers, osteoporosis, and mental illness. Undernutrition was strongly associated, both in the review of published work and in new analyses, with shorter adult height, less schooling, reduced economic productivity, and--for women--lower offspring birthweight. Associations with adult disease indicators were not so clear-cut. Increased size at birth and in childhood were positively associated with adult body-mass index and to a lesser extent with blood pressure values, but not with blood glucose concentrations. In our new analyses and in published work, lower birthweight and undernutrition in childhood were risk factors for high glucose concentrations, blood pressure, and harmful lipid profiles once adult body-mass index and height were adjusted for, suggesting that rapid postnatal weight gain--especially after infancy--is linked to these conditions. The review of published works indicates that there is insufficient information about long-term changes in immune function, blood lipids, or osteoporosis indicators. Birthweight is positively associated with lung function and with the incidence of some cancers, and undernutrition could be associated with mental illness. We noted that height-for-age at 2 years was the best predictor of human capital and that undernutrition is associated with lower human capital. We conclude that damage suffered in early life leads to permanent impairment, and might also affect future generations. Its prevention will probably bring about important health, educational, and economic benefits. Chronic diseases are especially common in undernourished children who experience rapid weight gain after infancy.
Article
Substantial, but indirect, evidence suggests that improving nutrition in early childhood in developing countries is a long-term economic investment. We investigated the direct effect of a nutrition intervention in early childhood on adult economic productivity. We obtained economic data from 1424 Guatemalan individuals (aged 25-42 years) between 2002 and 2004. They accounted for 60% of the 2392 children (aged 0-7 years) who had been enrolled in a nutrition intervention study during 1969-77. In this initial study, two villages were randomly assigned a nutritious supplement (atole) for all children and two villages a less nutritious one (fresco). We estimated annual income, hours worked, and average hourly wages from all economic activities. We used linear regression models, adjusting for potentially confounding factors, to assess the relation between economic variables and exposure to atole or fresco at specific ages between birth and 7 years. Exposure to atole before, but not after, age 3 years was associated with higher hourly wages, but only for men. For exposure to atole from 0 to 2 years, the increase was US$0.67 per hour (95% CI 0.16-1.17), which meant a 46% increase in average wages. There was a non-significant tendency for hours worked to be reduced and for annual incomes to be greater for those exposed to atole from 0 to 2 years. Improving nutrition in early childhood led to substantial increases in wage rates for men, which suggests that investments in early childhood nutrition can be long-term drivers of economic growth.