China & World Economy , Vol. 23
Using individual data collected in rural China and adopting Heckman’s two-step function, we examined the impact of childcare and eldercare on laborers’ off-farm activities. Our study finds that having school-aged children has a negative impact on rural laborers’ migration decisions and a positive impact on their decision to work in the local off-farm employment market. As grandparents can help to take care of young children, the impact of preschoolers is insignificant. Having elderly family to care for decreases the income earned by female members of the family. Although both men and women are actively engaged in off-farm employment today in rural China, this study shows that women are still the primary care providers for both children and the elderly. Therefore, reforming public school enrollment and high school/college entrance examination systems so that migrant children can stay with their parents, this will help rural laborers to migrate to cities. The present study also calls for more public services for preschoolers and the elderly in rural China.