Academic journal article International Journal of China Studies

"Left-Behind Children" Phenomenon in China: Case Study in Chongqing

Academic journal article International Journal of China Studies

"Left-Behind Children" Phenomenon in China: Case Study in Chongqing

Article excerpt

Abstract

This article examines the "left-behind children" phenomenon in Wuxi County, Chongqing, China. This research utilizes several interviews with government officials, NGOs, and the left-behind children through questionnaire and observations including official written reports. The activities on LBC were categorized into 4 models: care model, society support model, rural school education model, and policies support and empowerment model. Given the exploratory nature of this LBC model in Chongqing, we have several recommendations in further improving the plight and phenomenon of this group of population.

Keywords: left-behind children (LBC), China

JEL classification: H75, I38, P3, Z13

(ProQuest: ... denotes non-US-ASCII text omitted.)

1. Preamble

With the advent of globalization, migration has become a worldwide phenomenon which has caused "Left-behind Children ..." (LBC) issues all over the world, especially in developing countries. For instance, 7 per cent of Mexican children in 2002 have migrating fathers, yet multistage estimate suggests that 17 per cent of children born into two-parent homes are expected to experience a migrating father at least once during childhood (Rosalia Cortes, 2007). In Thailand, Bryant (2005) estimates that about half a million children aged up to 14 years are leftbehind. A case study based on 1996's data found that in certain rural areas of Bangladesh, a range of 18 to 40 per cent of rural households have at least one migrant member working elsewhere (Yeoh and Lam, 2007). Moreover, there are approximately 9 million Filipino children under the age of 18 who are leftbehind by one or both parents to work tentatively or live permanently abroad (Reyes, 2008).

Since the ''Reform and Opening up Policy'' started in the 1970s in China, the acceleration of economic development and rapid urbanization has caused millions of peasant workers to migrate into cities. The rural population who migrated to urban cities has risen to 151 million by 2009 in China (NBS, 2009). However, the unique dual economic structure and related household register system in China restrained rural labour's settling down in city and hundreds of them had to move alone without their family. Thus there is a huge group of LBC leftin the countryside, with their population estimated at 58 million in China representing 28.29 per cent of total population of rural children (All Women Federation, 2008). These statistics are still rising rapidly. The LBC are facing various problems in their life, such as in the aspects of education, security, personality, psychology, etc., which limits these LBC's development. The issues of LBC do not only have a bad impact on society, but also create some serious risks on next generations of China.

In the last decade, the Chinese government has introduced policies, laws and regulations to provide better care for LBC in the countryside. This paper concentrates on Chongqing, being the youngest municipality located in southwest China with 32.57 million people in 2008 including 7.5 million out of residential areas (CRC, 2010). Chongqing has the highest rate (49.9 per cent) of LBC among rural children all over the country (Duan and Yang, 2008). Since 2008, Chongqing has put the left-behind children (LBC) into the Ten People's Livelihood project, and explored series of ways to manage LBC, one of which is called "Chongqing's model".

2. Literature Review

2.1. Left-behind Children

LBC are defined as children with one or two parents who have moved elsewhere and were leftbehind at the place of household registration (Duan and Zhou, 2005). There were no heated controversies over the definition of LBC, but diverse scholars have various opinions about LBC's age range. According to the "Convention on the Rights of the Child", China, the term children is defined as "every human being below the age of eighteen years" (CRC, Article1). In All-China Women's Federation's survey in 2007, they defined the LBC as children seventeen years old or below (All-China Women's Federation, 2008). …

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