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Left‐Behind Children and Return Decisions of Rural Migrants in China
Sylvie Démurger1, Hui Xu1

This paper examines how left-behind children influence return migration in China. We first present a simple model that incorporates economic and non-economic motives for migration duration (or intentions to return). Based on Dustmann (2003b), the parent is assumed to be altruistic and to care about the prospects of her left-behind children. We then propose two complementary empirical tests based on an original dataset from a rural household survey carried out in Wuwei County (Anhui province, China) in fall 2008. We first use a discrete-time proportional hazard model to estimate the determinants of migration duration for both on-going migrants with incomplete length of duration and return migrants with complete length of duration. Second, we apply a binary Probit model to study the return intentions of on-going migrants. Both models find consistent results regarding the role of left-behind children as a significant motive for return. First, left-behind children are found to pull their parents back to the village, the effect being stronger for pre-school children. Second, sons are found to play a more important role than daughters in reducing migration duration.
1 :  GATE Lyon Saint-Étienne - Groupe d'analyse et de théorie économique
return migration – migration duration – left-behind children – discrete-time duration analysis – China