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Title: Impact of parental migration on the psychosocial wellbeing of left-behind children in two Chinese provinces : individual experiences, family characteristics, and community contexts
Author: Zhao, C.
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2017
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Background: In many countries, large numbers of left-behind children (LBC) grow up experiencing prolonged separation from their migrant worker parents. In China, the wellbeing of 60 million LBC has become a significant challenge for families, communities, and the society. This thesis aimed to investigate the impact mechanisms of parental migration on the psychosocial wellbeing of LBC. Methods: Children were recruited from migrant-sending rural areas in Zhejiang and Guizhou provinces. A qualitative study investigated the experiences of children and perceptions of family members in relation to child psychosocial wellbeing under the impact of parental migration, as well as the interrelated factors in the family and social environments and the mechanisms through which they affect LBC. A quantitative study measured children's psychosocial strengths and difficulties and the family and social factors, with a self-administered questionnaire, and examined the effects of both current and previous parental migration, and potential causal mechanisms involving different covariates in multiple linear regression models. Findings: Qualitative findings showed that lengthy separation poses considerable difficulties on many children's psychosocial welling, especially emotional distress, primarily through disrupted attachment relationships. These effects may not be easily restored even if migrant parents permanently returned home. The psychosocial support (and lack of) from the co-resident family, as well as factors regarding school performance and community cohesion, also modify or intensify the child wellbeing outcomes under the impact of parents' absence. Quantitative results indicated that both current and previous parental migration was independently associated with adverse outcomes, especially the emotional and social dimensions of child psychosocial wellbeing. Relationship between nuclear family members, care arrangements, and availability of support in family and social environments seem to be important covariates in the causal mechanisms. Parental divorce and lack of support may particularly exacerbate children's psychosocial difficulties. Discussion: Parental migration has a long-lasting adverse effect on children's psychosocial wellbeing, especially emotional functioning. Positive parent-child relationship bonds and supportive family and social environments are crucial determinants of the wellbeing of LBC, rather than socioeconomic status. Community based programs may be developed to provide additional care and support.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available