DOI: 10.14704/nq.2018.16.6.1581

Whether the Father is Important for Left Behind Children? - Empirical Research on Rural China

Lanfang Deng, Rong Chen


This paper aims to figure out the impact of father on the development of left-behind children. For this purpose, the absence of one parent was distinguished from that of both parents, and their impacts on left-behind children were estimated separately. Focusing on the absence of father, the author examined the father’s role as the caretaker, which is usually assumed by mother in normal families. Besides, the effect of father’s absence was compared with that of mother’s absence on children’s development. During the research, the height-for-age z-score (HAZ score) was taken as the output variable. The research results show that the absence of both parents has significant adverse effects on the development of left-behind children, resulting in a 0.66% and 0.62% decrease in HAZ score from the levels when either the both parents presence or the father is absent. This means the mother alone can take care of the children well when the father is absent. Besides, the father’s presence is more important than whether he assumes the caretaker role as long as the mother is at home. Whether father is present or absent, the mother’s presence is essential to the development of children. Therefore, more favourable policies should be laid down to encourage mother’s presence. The research findings provide important insights into the development of left-behind children.


Left-behind Children, Parental Migration, Father Absent, Height-for-age z-score (HAZ score)

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