Bolun Li (Rice University)
Kalai Family Workshop in Applied Microeconomics
Nov 5 2019
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Title: “The Effect of Parental Rural-to-Urban Migration on Children’s Cognitive Skill Formation”
There are millions of rural-origin children in developing countries who have been left behind by their migrant parents due to the large-scale rural-to-urban internal migration. This paper develops a structural model of household migration to evaluate the effects of parental migration decisions on the dynamics of children’s cognitive skill formation. I estimate the model using data from the Indonesian Family Life Survey via simulated maximum likelihood. I find that children’s cognitive skill formation is sensitive to the duration of parental migration. Using the estimated model, I assess whether left-behind children would have been better off if their families had remained together. I also simulate a series of counterfactual migration policies. I show that policies that incentivize parents to migrate together with their children to urban destinations are effective in fostering children’s cognitive development.