Moderating role of hope in the relationship between perceived discrimination and life satisfaction among left-behind children in China
Ran Zhang (Air Force Medical University), Luming Zhao (Peking University), Xiaochen Han (Chengdu University), Shengjun Wu (Air Force Medical University), and Xufeng Liu (Air Force Medical University), 2020, 48(11), e9410

The left-behind children phenomenon, which began in China during the industrialization and urbanization process in the late 1970s, has resulted in a rural-to-urban internal migratory flow. This migration has involved hundreds of millions of migrants streaming into major cities each year. An estimated 61 million left-behind children, aged between 1 and 17 years, are living in villages in rural areas, while one or both of their parents, of necessity, work and live in the city for at least half of the year. The children are usually cared for by their grandparents or other relatives, and the parents usually cannot return home frequently, because of their work schedule and money concerns. The loss of their parents’ protection and care, and thus of their sense of security, must be devastating for the children, whose education is also affected.

As it must be extremely difficult for the parents to leave their children, I have wondered if it would be preferable for the children to migrate with their parents. However, societal factors at the macrolevel in China form barriers that prevent these parents from taking their children with them. As Chinese society is based on the household registration system (hukou), which is assigned at birth, people with a rural hukou status form an underclass in the cities. They have only a temporary permit to work, with no access to social benefits such as housing, health insurance, and education. As the children thus become migrant children, they have another set of problems, and may be even more disadvantaged than left-behind children.

In this study, the authors examined the moderating role of hope in the relationship between perceived discrimination and life satisfaction in 588 left-behind pupils, aged between 8 and 13 years, at three primary schools in China. I think that hope is a most pertinent moderator, as individuals with hope in the most dire situation can maintain goals and positivity  for the future.

The authors’ finding that hope played a moderating role in buffering and reducing the effect of perceived discrimination on life satisfaction is heartening. Thus, hope, by promoting the children’s physical and mental development, is an important protective factor for left-behind children. With this knowledge, the children’s teachers and social workers can reduce the negative effect of perceived discrimination by increasing their hope. They can help the children cultivate active psychological traits and positive resources, so that they can improve their adaptability and thrive in unfavorable conditions throughout life.

Katharine Samuel | Copyeditor
Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal