Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


International Relations

Reader 1

Minxin Pei


Left-behind children, also known as “liushouertong,” refer to the rural children from China whose parents leave to work in urban cities. They usually grow up under the care of either their extended families, such as grandparents, or family friends, who stay in the rural areas. According to the Ministry of Civil Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, in 2018, there were 6.97 million left-behind children, and the majority were between 6 to 13 years old. This paper asks why left-behind children exist and how China deals with issues related to left-behind children, such as education and mental health. Studying the case of left-behind children brings a perspective on how the Chinese government deals with social problems. To answer those questions, this paper first discusses the origin of left-behind children through a close analysis of China’s urban-rural gap and the evolution of the hukou system. The second part of this paper argues that being left behind affects a child’s health and education, which creates long-term consequences for both individuals and society. The third part closely examines the existing actions the Chinese government took to address the problem of left-behind children and concludes that the current actions are inadequate.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.