Several studies look at the well-being of migrants and the issues they face in the cities. What about their children? We know that many migrants’ children do not have access to adequate education in cities because their families lack an urban hukou, and therefore cannot attend urban schools. So, many migrants choose to leave their children in their hometown where they will be able to receive an education.
How precarious are the lives of these “left-behind children”? That is the question Guo Lin1 attempts to answer in her Ph. D. dissertation.
She studied the different dimensions of children’s well-being based on their education level, their health and health coverage, and their daily activities.
According to her results, left-behind children and rural children living with both parents have a comparable level of education. Also, she notes there does not appear to be a large difference between left-behind children and other children in terms of health, but left-behind children are more likely to be covered by health insurance. Her findings also show that left-behind children are more likely to help with household chores. Based on this research, the overall conditions of rural left-behind children are no worse than those of rural children living with their parents.
Guo Lin recognizes that there needs to be further study the left-behind children phenomenon, not only by using samples provided by the China Health and Nutrition Survey, but also by conducting interviews. But for her, it is also crucial to look at the well-being of rural children in general. There are disparities between urban and rural children, which are partly caused by hukou. Guo Lin’s research shows that gaps in terms of education and health coverage are greater between rural and urban children than between left-behind children and other rural children.
We can go further and argue that China’s future greatly depends on the present health and education of rural children.
- Guo Lin (2012). Migration and the well-being of left-behind children in China. Ph.D. thesis, State University of New York, Albany