Social Capital and Flourishing of Left Behind Children in Rural China
With dramatic change in China since the 1970s, industrialization and urbanization there have been progressing rapidly. This has been causing the most massive internal migration in human history. Due to this mass migration, many children of the migrants become left-behind children (LBC) in rural Chinese area. LBC are numerous and this has raised attention from various perspectives. Most of previous literature focused on the negative aspects of LBC, such as mental health symptoms. In contrast, this study aims to shift the focus from negative aspects to strength and protective factors. Herein, this study takes two steps. First, this study conducted a pilot study through semi-structured interview. Five interviewees shared their LBC experiences and feelings, revealing some protective factors, including social capital. The next step built on the results of the first step, surveyed children in Liaoning Province to examine the relationship between LBC and flourishing, and its mediation by social capital. Analysis of survey data obtained from 520 LBC and 475 non-LBC showed that LBC showed lower flourishing than were non-LBC. Importantly, this difference diminished after controlling for social capital. That is, social capital functioned as a mediator. Overall, the study adds some empirical findings about LBC.
Keywords - Left-behind children; Social capital; Flourishing