The Urbanization Paradox: Parental Absence and Child Development in China - an Empirical Analysis Based on the China Family Panel Studies Survey

Lijun Chen, Di Qi & Dali L. Yang - Child Indicators Research


This study zeroes in on the issue of left-behind children and draws on data from the China Family Panel Studies surveys to examine the impacts of parental absence on child development in psychological, physical and cognitive domains. The indicators of child well-being selected include child physical health measured by their likelihood of being sick, psychological wellbeing measured by reported happiness scores, and children’s cognitive abilities measured by their performance in word and math tests. Parental absence was differentiated as both parents absent, father absent, mother absent and both parents present. The results confirm the importance of parental guardianship and care for child healthy development in all domains. Policy findings and implications are discussed and summarized at the end of the paper.

This article is part of the special issue of the Child Indicators Research journal, focused on child neglect.