Childhood left-behind experience and labour market outcomes in China

Haining Wang, Zhiming Cheng, Ben Zhe Wang, Yuanyuan Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines the long-run impacts of childhood left-behind experience resulting from the labour migration of one or both parents on labour market outcomes in adulthood in China. We find that exposure to a left-behind experience due to maternal migration in early and late childhood has a detrimental effect on one’s probability of finding a job and wages, respectively. However, maternal absence in late childhood has a positive impact on the probability of finding a job. The long-run effects of childhood left-behind experience on labour market outcomes are more pronounced among those who are males, those who are from medium- and low-income families, and those who currently live in rural areas. We also find that educational attainment, health status, cognitive ability, personality traits and personal values are possible channels through which early-life left-behind experience affects labour market outcomes in adulthood. Our findings provide a fresh understanding of the effects of parental migration on the economic wellbeing of left-behind children and can be used to inform policies to mitigate the long-lasting negative effects of childhood left-behind experience.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196-207
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Business Research
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


  • Left-behind experienc
  • Migration
  • Childhood
  • Labour market outcomes
  • China


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