Poverty, Psychosocial Well-Being, and School Performance in Rural China

Shengchao Yu, University of Pennsylvania
Emily Hannum, University of Pennsylvania
Xiaodong Liu, Ohio State University

While measures of psychosocial well-being for children and adolescents have been developed and widely used in developed country contexts, few studies of human capital acquisition in developing countries have examined the role of psychosocial well-being. Analyzing data from a survey of 2000 9-12 year-old children in rural Gansu, China, this analysis investigates links between poverty, children's psychosocial well-being, and school achievement in language and math. We measure psychosocial well-being using two scales: internalizing problems, identified by symptoms of withdrawal, anxiety, and depression, and externalizing problems, identified by behaviors including hyperactivity, aggression, and delinquency. We consider two specific questions: first, what family socioeconomic and demographic factors influence children's psychosocial well-being? Second, does children's psychosocial well-being affect performance in school? Results indicate that children from wealthier families experience significantly fewer psychosocial problems, and that having fewer psychosocial problems confers a significant educational advantage on these children.

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Presented in Poster Session 3: Families, Parenting, Adolescents, and Children