Date of Graduation

Spring 5-18-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in International and Development Economics (MSIDEC)


College of Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Peter Lorentzen


This study aims to explore the cognitive development differences between left-behind and non-left-behind children in rural China, specifically in the rural villages of Ya'an City, Sichuan Province. Utilizing cross-sectional data from 570 children aged 0-3 years, the children were categorized based on parental presence into four groups: non-left-behind children (both parents present), left-behind children (both parents absent), left-behind children (mother present), and left-behind children (father present). The cognitive development of these children was assessed using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development's cognitive subscale. Regression analyses were conducted, adjusting for village-level clustering, and controlling for demographic variables such as age in months, gender, prematurity, birth weight, and household assets.

Additionally, the study analyzed the incremental impacts of complete parental absence and the combined presence of both parents on children's cognitive development. The relationship between parental presence and household economic status was further examined to understand the interplay between these variables. By evaluating these factors, the research aims to provide valuable insights for policymakers to design interventions that improve the cognitive development of left-behind children.