Migration and children’s education: facts and explanations

LV Lidan1 WANG Fei2

(1.Center for Population and Development Studies, Renmin University of China)
(2.School of Labor and Human Resources, Renmin University of China)

【Abstract】Using the 2010 population census data of Chongqing, China, the paper examines the relationship between population migration and children’s education. Particularly this paper compares three types of rural children, namely the left-behind children, the children with parents at home, and the children migrating to cities, regarding to their enrollment rate, completion rate of a certain level of schooling, and the chance of progressing to the next level of education. Taking advantage of a large sample and a more accurate definition of children’s type, the paper provides a better understanding of the relations between population migration and children’s education. The left-behind children have the highest rates of enrollment and progression, whereas the migrant children have the lowest rates for these two indicators and the children with parents at home have the middle rates. In regard to the completion of junior middle school, the three types of children have a reverse order. The differences of children’s education vary by children’s gender, their parental education, and the economic development of their home regions. Income, parent-child separation, and the interference of urban institutions could be reasons for educational differences among the three types of children.

【Keywords】 left-behind children; migrant children; children’s education; parent-child separation; institutional interference;


【Funds】 Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, and the Research Funds of Renmin University of China (17XNQ012).

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(Translated by DENG Honghong)


    [1]. ① According to 1% population sample survey in 2015, 49% of rural children in Chongqing were left-behind children, ranking the first in China, and being 6 percentage points higher than the figure in Hubei, which ranks the second. [^Back]

    [2]. ② In the data of Chongqing census used in this paper, 4.4% of the population living in rural areas had non-agricultural hukou. [^Back]

    [3]. ① Most of migrant children live with one or both parents at the age of 14 years old and before. In the samples of children selected, 86.5% of the migrant children under the age of 14 live with their parents, and 8.4% of the children live with one of the parents. Therefore, for migrant children, this paper no longer distinguishes whether they live with their parents or not. [^Back]

    [4]. ② If the type of children is defined based on the information of the censuses before 2010, the following problems will be encountered. First, for children living in rural areas, due to no information on the migrant population, it cannot be judged whether the parents are migrant population if they do not live at home. Second, migrant children can only be found in the inflow areas, and for children who have migrated to cities, it can only be found whether their household registrations are agricultural ones, instead of whether their household registrations are located in rural or urban areas. [^Back]


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This Article


CN: 11-1489/C

Vol 41, No. 06, Pages 45-57

November 2017


Article Outline


  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Literature review and comment
  • 3 Data sources and definition
  • 4 Results
  • 5 Conclusion
  • Footnote