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How parental migration affects early social-emotional development of left-behind children in rural China: a structural equation modeling analysis.

Authors
  • Shi, Huifeng1
  • Zhao, Chunxia2
  • Dou, Yan1
  • Duan, Xiaoqian1
  • Yang, Lingyan3
  • Du, Yufeng1
  • Huang, Xiaona2
  • Wang, Xiaoli1
  • Zhang, Jingxu4
  • 1 Department of Maternal and Child Health, Peking University School of Public Health, 38 Xueyuan Road, Haidian District, Beijing, 100191, China. , (China)
  • 2 Section of Health, Nutrition, and Water, Environment and Sanitation, UNICEF China, Beijing, China. , (China)
  • 3 School of Mathematical Sciences, Dalian University of Technology, Dalian, China. , (China)
  • 4 Department of Maternal and Child Health, Peking University School of Public Health, 38 Xueyuan Road, Haidian District, Beijing, 100191, China. [email protected] , (China)
Type
Published Article
Journal
International journal of public health
Publication Date
Oct 15, 2020
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s00038-020-01509-w
PMID: 33057795
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

This study assessed the early social-emotional development of left-behind children (LBC) in rural China and determined the mediating factors linking parental migration to LBC's developmental outcome. We used cross-sectional data of 845 LBC under 3 years old from five counties in rural China in 2018. Social-emotional problems were assessed by the ages and stages questionnaires: social-emotional. Family structure, function, and child nurturing care practices were measured to explore their roles in potential pathways of parental migration affecting early social-emotional development. 36.4% of LBC were identified with social-emotional problems; the rate was higher among LBC with migrant parents than those with migrant fathers (39.9% vs. 30.5%, adjusted OR: 1.40 [95% CI 1.01, 1.93]). Results of structural equation modeling reveal that caregivers' low education and depressive symptoms, poor migrant-caregiver communication, family poverty, and no assistant caregiving weakened home parenting environment, and then contributed to LBC's social-emotional problems. LBC in early childhood may be at a high risk of social-emotional problems, which are primarily caused by the transition of family structure and function and consequently weakened home environment.

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