Volume 29 - Article 2 | Pages 33-70

Does migration benefit the schooling of children left behind?: Evidence from rural northwest China

By Feng Hu

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Date received:05 Feb 2013
Date published:04 Jul 2013
Word count:9044
Keywords:child education, China, migration, remittances


Background: While many studies have found that migration can benefit home communities and family members left behind by increasing household income, thus easing liquidity constraints on investment; less is known about how "internal" migration and remittances affect the educational performance of the children who are left behind in the source communities.

Objective: My aim in this paper is to examine the effects of migration on the educational attainment of left-behind rural children in northwest China. To gain a better understanding of whether the educational performance of these children improves or suffers when adult family members migrate, I attempt to disentangle the effects of remittances from the effects of migration.

Methods: The data used in this study come from the 2004 wave of the Gansu Survey of Children and Families. To account for the possible endogeneity of migration-related variables, I use the migration network variables to instrument for different migration strategies.

Results: The results show that the absence of adult household members, including parents, has a negative effect on the educational performance of the children left behind, but that remittances can partially compensate for this loss. Boys’ educational performance does not seem to be greatly affected by the migration of adult household members. By contrast, the absence of adult household members is shown to have a large negative effect on girls’ educational performance, and the positive effect of remittances is also found to be significant for girls.

Conclusions: The findings may be of interest to other developing countries with large internal migration flows and to the relevant policy makers, as the results suggest that remittances sent home by out-migrants may serve as a channel for investing in human capital in the migrants' regions of origin, and especially for investing in the human capital of girls.

Author's Affiliation

Feng Hu - University of Science and Technology Beijing, China [Email]

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