Economics Professors Co-Author Paper Published in ‘China Economic Review’ | St. Lawrence University

Economics Professors Co-Author Paper Published in ‘China Economic Review’

Cynthia Bansak, Charles A. Dana Professor of Economics, and Guanyi Yang, Assistant Professor of Economics, co-authored a paper recently published in Elsevier’s China Economic Review titled, Does wealth matter? An assessment of China's rural-urban migration on the education of left-behind children.”

“As migration and remittances become more important, the implications for the source countries are an area growing focus and research,” Bansak says. “For this specific research project, our results are important for policymakers interested in studying the plight of left-behind children.” 

Bansak and Yang describe the impact of parental migration on the education of children left behind. In particular, they examine whether children are enrolled in school on a timely basis according to their age when their parents are away.

According to the article’s abstract, they found both theoretical and empirical evidence to support that parental migration generates a strong positive impact on timely enrollment if a child is from a less wealthy background. However, the effect decreases with family wealth, and reverses after reaching a threshold; we find this point using family house size as our proxy and the turning point occurs at a moderate size of approximately 148 square meters.

In addition, Bansak and Yang found a compensating effect that migrants tend to spend more on a child's education investment to offset the loss of parental time care, as well as how the overall impact of parental migration is negative on the timely enrollment of the child. Thus, with the important heterogeneities attributed to wealth, their results suggest that the left-behind children of more affluent parents may be pushed into worse human capital outcomes; given the rapid development of China, it may be the case that the current cohort of left-behind children is less likely to be enrolled in school than earlier cohorts.

On campus, Yang incorporates some of this research into his teaching of the economics of migration as a section in his Labor Economics course. Both he and Bansak are eager to connect with others interested in similar work.

“Our hope is to engender some broader interests in the St. Lawrence community towards development issues in other countries,” he says.

The China Economic Review publishes original research works on the economy of China and its relation to the world economy. 

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