The Developing Economies
This research uses a mixed-methods analysis to examine how being left behind impacts the cognition/education, nutrition, and mental health outcomes of children in rural China. We find that parental migration increases household income and decreases care, and these impacts vary based on location, socioeconomic status, and age. We also find that families generally recognize these impacts. Our findings offer a more general view of the effects of being left behind on childhood outcomes than previous research, which often used small sample sizes from limited geographic areas or age ranges. Although our research focuses on China, the findings are relevant to other developing nations where working-age individuals often migrate domestically or internationally in search of work, such as Mexico and the Philippines.