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Does Parental Migration Have Negative Impact on the Growth of Left-Behind Children?—New Evidence from Longitudinal Data in Rural China

College of Economics and Management, China Center for Food Security Studies, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing 210095, China
Department of Nutrition and Health Education, National Institute for Nutrition and Health, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Beijing 102206, China
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Nanjing Medical University, Jiangning District, Nanjing 211166, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Paul B. Tchounwou
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(11), 1308;
Received: 15 September 2017 / Revised: 24 October 2017 / Accepted: 25 October 2017 / Published: 27 October 2017
(This article belongs to the Section Occupational Safety and Health)
PDF [290 KB, uploaded 27 October 2017]


The soaring number of left-behind children (LBC) in China has raised concerns about whether or not they can receive adequate care. This study investigated the impact of parents’ migration on LBC’s growth. LBC were divided into father-left children (F-LBC) and at least mother left children (M-LBC), both of which were compared with non-left-behind children (non-LBC) in terms of growth indicators. Data of 466 children with two continuous measurements were obtained from the four recent waves of the China Health and Nutrition Survey (CHNS). Anthropometric measures and 24-h recall of three consecutive days of dietary intake were extracted. The disparity of growth and nutrition status were compared by the difference-in-difference (DID) method. Results showed that LBC had significantly worse height and weight than non-LBC at baseline, respectively (p = 0.006, p = 0.003). This disadvantage was improved after parental migration, especially for M-LBC. However, the impact on growth status caused by parents’ migration was statistically insignificant once the pre-treatment disparity was removed. Further analysis on nutrition status indicated that fathers’ migration had a significant negative impact on F-LBC’s calorie intake (p = 0.014), which was mainly caused by the decline of carbohydrates (p = 0.008). This study indicated that the negative impact detected in previous studies might be caused by the retarded growth of LBC before parents’ migration. View Full-Text
Keywords: left-behind children; height; weight; calorie; carbohydrate left-behind children; height; weight; calorie; carbohydrate
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Tian, X.; Ding, C.; Shen, C.; Wang, H. Does Parental Migration Have Negative Impact on the Growth of Left-Behind Children?—New Evidence from Longitudinal Data in Rural China. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14, 1308.

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