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The effects of parents' absence on the lives of the left -behind children in middle and northern rural China

Yiming He, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This study examines the psychological, behavioral and educational development of left-behind children, due to parent migration into cities for temporary employment in middle and northern rural China. Quantitative and qualitative research methods were used to study 236 rural families and interview 272 left-behind children, in ten villages of four provinces: Shandong, Henan, Hebei and Shanxi. Previous research has suggested that long term separation, from parents or parent, has the following adverse effects: depression, loneliness, anxiety, anger, behavioral problems at school, low academic achievement motivation, lack of self-esteem, misbehavior, truancy, and stealing. Statistical analyses revealed mixed findings. The research study finds similar negative effects on the left-behind children, as well as differences between the left-behind children the non-left-behind children in many aspects of their lives, due to the parental absence. However, contrary to previous research studies, the current study also suggests some positive influences on the children's development as long as the children's temporary guardians such as one parent, grandparents or relatives, schools or community take initiatives to direct and guide the children toward appropriate goals. Based on the research findings, the author recommends, to policy makers and care givers, some possible means to help the left-behind children develop in positive and constructive ways.

Subject Area

Early childhood education|Developmental psychology|Individual & family studies

Recommended Citation

He, Yiming, "The effects of parents' absence on the lives of the left -behind children in middle and northern rural China" (2008). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3325277.