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Biomed Environ Sci. 2018 May;31(5):382-388. doi: 10.3967/bes2018.049.

Subjective Well-being and Family Functioning among Adolescents Left Behind by Migrating Parents in Jiangxi Province, China.

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Institute of Child and Adolescent Health, Health Science Center, Peking University, Bejjing 100191, China; The National Clinical Research Center for Mental Disorders & Beijing Key Laboratory of Mental Disorders, Beijing Anding Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing 100088, China.
Department of Child Care, Guangzhou Women and Children's Medical Center, Guangzhou 510623, Guangdong, China.
School of Agroforestry & Medicine, the Open University of China, Beijing 100081, China.
Institute of Child and Adolescent Health, Health Science Center, Peking University, Bejjing 100191, China.
Yale School of Public Health, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06510-3201, USA.
Department of Child, Adolescent and Maternal Health, School of Public Health, Capital Medical University, Beijing 100069, China.


We sought to identify the differences between adolescents left behind in their home villages/towns (LBA) and non-left behind adolescents (NLB) on subjective well-being and family functioning due to parental migration in south China. We used a stratified cluster sampling method to recruit middle school students in a city experiencing population-emigration in Jiangxi Province in 2010. Participants included adolescents from families with: (1) one migrant parent, (2) both parents who migrated, or (3) non-left behind adolescents (i.e., no migrant parent). To determine predictors of subjective well-being, we used structural equation models. Adolescents left behind by both parents (LBB) were less likely to express life satisfaction (P = 0.038) in terms of their environments (P = 0.011) compared with NLB. A parent or parents who migrated predicts lower subjective well-being of adolescents (P = 0.051) and also lower academic performance. Being apart from their parents may affect family functioning negatively from an adolescent's viewpoint. Given the hundreds of millions of persons in China, many who are parents, migrating for work, there may be mental health challenges in some of the adolescents left behind.

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