Correlates of psychological wellbeing of children of migrant workers in Shanghai, China

Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2009 Oct;44(10):815-24. doi: 10.1007/s00127-009-0003-y. Epub 2009 Feb 27.


Background: It is estimated that approximately 20 million migrant school-aged children have accompanied their parents in relocating to cities in China. However, little research on the lives of these children has been conducted. The purpose of the present study is to identify the risk factors associated with the psychological wellbeing of children of migrant workers in Shanghai, China.

Methods: A total of 625 children of migrant workers were recruited from ten primary and secondary schools in Shanghai through a survey design using the multistage cluster sampling method. Children of migrant workers were identified as mentally healthy or unhealthy using The revised child anxiety and depression scale. Socio-demographic characteristics, parent-child relationship, peer relationship and relationships in schools were explored as correlates of the psychological wellbeing of children of migrant workers.

Results: Compared to overseas studies, children of migrant workers suffered from symptoms of separation anxiety, depression and generalized anxiety disorder. They were male (OR = 1.88, 95% CI 0.99-3.60), older in age (OR = 1.18, 95% CI 0.99-1.40), experiencing parent-child conflicts (OR = 1.92, 95% CI 1.28-2.89), discipline from teacher (OR = 2.29, 95% CI 1.26-4.16) and discrimination in school (OR = 4.53, 95% CI 1.11-18.48).

Conclusion: The findings provide information for the prevention of mental ill-health among children of migrant workers in China. The implications and limitations are also discussed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety, Separation / epidemiology
  • Child
  • China / epidemiology
  • Conflict, Psychological
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / psychology
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mental Disorders / prevention & control
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Prejudice
  • Psychology, Child / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Support
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Transients and Migrants / psychology*
  • Transients and Migrants / statistics & numerical data
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data