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Parental Migration and Left-Behind Children's Depressive Symptoms: Estimation Based on a Nationally-Representative Panel Dataset

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International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

May, 2018

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China’s rapid urbanization in the past several decades have been accompanied by rural labor migration. An important question that has emerged is whether rural labor migration has a positive or negative impact on the depressive symptoms of children left behind in the countryside by their migrating parents. This paper uses a nationally representative panel dataset to investigate whether parental migration impacts the prevalence of depressive symptoms among left-behind children in China. Using DID and PSM-DID methods, our results show that parental migration significantly increases the depression scores of 10 and 11-year-old children by 2 points using the CES-D depression scale. Furthermore, we also find that the negative effect of decreased parental care is stronger than the positive effect of increased income in terms of determining the depressive symptoms status of children in rural China.

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