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The Economist’s solutions on problems of China’s left-behind children

left-behind children in China, suggestions


IMAGINE you are a young married man or woman in rural China. There are no jobs, so you find work in a big city, perhaps 1,000 miles away. But government restrictions mean that if you take your children with you they will almost certainly not be able to attend schools where you live, or visit a state doctor. And if your parents come to share the child care, their pension will be too small for them to live on. What do you do?

假想一下,你是中国农村的年轻未婚男性或女性。没有就业机会,所以你到也许1000英里之遥的大城市谋生。但政府的限制规定意味着,如果你带着孩子一起去,那么他们将肯定无法在你生活的城市上学,或者去公立医院看病。而如果你的父母来帮忙照顾孩子,那么他们的养老金太少,将无法维持生计。你会怎么做?

 

For the parents of 61m Chinese children, the answer is to leave them behind in the villages where they were born, to be looked after by grandparents (often illiterate) or other relatives. Another 9m are left in one city by parents working in another. The 70m total is almost the number of all the children in the United States.

对于6100万名中国儿童的父母来说,答案是,把他们留在出生之地——农村,由祖父母(通常不识字)或者其它亲戚来照顾他们。还有900万名儿童被留在一个城市,而其父母却在另一个城市工作。7000万的总人数几乎相当于全美儿童的总人数。

 

These so-called "left-behind children" are a dark facet of China's shining economic development. They make up a disproportionate share of the population in the countryside, where children are four times as likely to be short for their age as urban ones, a measure of malnutrition.

这些所谓的"留守儿童"是中国耀眼的经济发展的黑暗面。他们占农村人口之比不成比例地高。农村儿童的个头低于同龄人平均水平的可能性比城市儿童高出3倍。个头是衡量营养不良的一项指标。

 

A survey this year for a charity called Growing Home found that left-behind children were more likely than their peers to be depressed or emotionally unstable. Researchers in Shanghai found that left-behind children underperform at school, and that their emotional and social development lags behind. Stories of abuse and suicide are rife; evidence suggests that left-behind children are more at risk of turning to crime.

今年,慈善组织歌路营进行的调查发现,留守儿童比其同伴更可能患抑郁或情绪不稳定。上海的研究人员发现,留守儿童在学校的表现不佳,其情感和社交能力发育落后。关于虐童和自杀的事件层出不穷;有证据表明,留守儿童转向犯罪的可能性更大。

 

This is a common pattern in other countries where parents move away from their families for work. Studies from the Philippines show that children of mothers working abroad struggle at school. In Sri Lanka left-behind children are almost twice as likely to be underweight as the average. But China's problem is both much larger—it has more left-behind children than the rest of the world put together—and largely self-inflicted, the result of restrictions on migration within the country.

在那些父母为了工作而离开家庭的国家,这是普遍模式。菲律宾的研究发现,其母亲在国外工作的儿童在学业方面遭遇困难。在斯里兰卡,留守儿童体重低于平均水平的可能性高出近一倍。但中国的问题大得多,而且在很大程度上,是自己造成的。中国的留守儿童人数比全世界其它地方的留守儿童的总人数还多。而且中国的留守儿童问题是限制国内人口流动所造成的后果。

 

China could transform the prospects of its left-behind children by abolishing hukou—a kind of internal passport that gives people and their children subsidised schooling and health care, but only in the place where they are registered. There has been a modest easing of restrictions, allowing skilled workers to change hukou and unskilled ones to move to smaller cities. But far more radical reforms are needed so that migrant labourers in the big cities benefit, too.

中国可以通过取消"户口"来改变留守儿童的未来命运。"户口"是一种国内"护照",让人们及其孩子享受有补贴的教育及医疗,但仅限于其户口登记地。现在对这些规定有适当的放宽,允许有技能的劳动力更改户口,让无技能的劳动力迁往较小的城市。但需要进行更彻底的改革,如此一来,大城市的农民工也能受益。

 

China's government should also give those living in the countryside the same property rights as urban residents. This would allow them to sell their homes, and thus help more of them to move to cities with enough cash to settle with their families.

中国政府还应该让生活在农村的人们享有与城市居民相同的产权。这将使得他们能够出售住房,并因此帮助他们中更多的人拥有充足的资金迁往城市,与家人一起在城市安定下来。

 

More could also be done to help the most vulnerable children.

还可以做更多的事情来帮助最脆弱的儿童。

 

Companies that employ migrant workers could also contribute by, for example, making it easier for parents to phone their children during working hours or even setting up schools on site. At a time when many factories struggle to find workers, helping their families makes business sense, too.

雇佣农民工的公司也可以有所贡献,比如说,让父母更容易在工作时间与其子女通电话,或者甚至在工地上创办学校。在这样一个众多工厂拼命寻找工人的时期,帮助其家人对企业也有意义。

2016-06-23

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