Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies Program on Energy and Sustainable Development Stanford University

Research at PESD

Migration, Money and Mothers: The Effect of Migration on Children's Educational Performance in Rural China

REAP Project


Migration is widely known as one of the main ways of alleviating poverty in developing countries, including China. However, migration itself is not costless. In recent years, there is an emerging concern about the effect of migration on the educational achievement of the children of migrants in China since most of the young children of school age of the migrants are being left in the village when one or both of their parents move to the city to work.

How might the migration of these parents to find work elsewhere affect the education outcomes of their children?


This project seeks to examine the effect of the migration activities of the father and/or mother on the educational performance of elementary school students (1st to 5th grade).


6 counties were randomly chosen from 93 counties in Shaanxi Province. 2 towns were randomly chosen from each of the 6 counties, one relatively rich and one relatively poor (total of 12 townships). 3 schools from each township were chosen (total of 36 primary schools). All students entering 6th grade were surveyed.



More information to come


Ongoing Project

Initial results indicate no significant negative effect of migration itself on the children’s school performance. In some cases (e.g., after the father migrates), performance improves.



Stanford University, Chinese Academy of Sciences