Research for Left-Behind Children in China

I recently started a DPhil course in Sociology to study quantitatively and qualitatively the association between fathering and the developmental outcomes of children in a special group of children often referred to as the Left-Behind Children in China.

The Left-Behind Children are a group of rural children who do not grow up with one or both of their parents because their parents are usually migrant workers in the cities. As China is experiencing rapid urbanisation, many workers experiencing rural poverty migrate to cities, often leaving behind their children. By the end of 2010, it was estimated that there were more than 61 million left-behind children in rural China, accounting for 37.7 percent of rural children and 21.9 percent of the child population in China (All China Women's Federation, 2013). The role of a father in a child’s upbringing is a complex and multidimensional topic. While many fathers financially contribute to their family, and this may be considered as their main contribution to the child’s upbringing, their absence has potential implications for a range of significant outcomes of children (Lamb, 2004). Children that grow up without resident fathers may be more commonly associated with a number of undesirable outcomes, such as lack of co-parenting (Cabrera et al., 2000), economic loss (McLanahan and Sandefur, 1994), emotional distress (Bream and Buchanan, 2003), obesogenic behaviours (Duriancik and Goff, 2019), damaging effects from parental conflict (Fincham, 1998) and perceived abandonment by the father (Lamb, 2000). 

The study is important, under investigated and it bears important policy implications. I wish the outcomes of my studies could improve the well-being of this special group of children who lack warm, positive, or adequate parenting. This study is important for myself as well. Although growing up in an urban environment, my father worked in another city since I was four and I only saw him a few times a year. I have to say that I am way luckier than most of these rural children to receive a proper education, but I know how it feels to grow up with a lone mother, and an estranged father. I consider myself lucky to be able to study in the UK for this important topic, and I am trying various means to raise funds so I can complete my study and receive my doctorate, and hopefully someday I can make a difference. However, as a student that has an oversea status, I bear double the cost in terms of tuition and my student visa alone costs around 2000 pound. I have been extremely fortunate to have received support for my first year's tuition and I work to the full amount of my allowed working hours to support my living. I will keep trying to maintain employed so I have adequate money to buy food and pay rent.  I do wish, however, to raise my second year's tuition as it is a huge amount of money I cannot possibly save within a year's time. 

Thanks for your support.

Sincerely.

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Organizer

Yan Zhang 
Organizer
University of Oxford, South East England, United Kingdom
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