Report on the State of Children in China
The Report on the State of Children in China, a research collaboration between the University of Chicago, the University of Peking, and Chapin Hall, reveals glaring disparities in education, economic conditions, and emotional health between rural and urban children in China.
The authors find that even as China’s economic growth fuels improved living conditions in much of the country, it challenges others and they highlight the need for educational and public policy reforms to help close those gaps. Findings are based on an analysis of data from the China Family Panel Studies, which addresses all major areas of child development and risk factors such as family economic conditions, living arrangements, and neighborhood support.
Specifically, the study looks at the “hukou” system of household registration, established by the Chinese government in the 1950s, which categorizes individuals as agricultural or nonagricultural residents. That status is tied to access to public services such as education, employment, and healthcare. Children “left behind” when parents move to urban areas for work face particular challenges, according to the research.
The authors make recommendations to improve conditions for rural migrant workers, including abolishing policies that exclude them and their families from urban schools and services, greater government investment in student transportation, better teacher training and compensation in rural areas, and more childcare assistance to rural families. They also suggest local governments set up an agency to coordinate the provision and delivery of services to vulnerable children.