Child Psychiatry & Human Development

, Volume 50, Issue 1, pp 142–149 | Cite as

Economic Pressure and Loneliness in Migrant Children in China: The Mediating Roles of Parent–Child Communication and Parental Warmth

  • Liuhua YingEmail author
  • Qing Yan
  • Xin Shen
  • Xuji Jia
  • Chongde Lin
Original Article


The purpose of the current study was to examine the mediating roles of parent–child communication and parental warmth in the relationship between economic pressure and loneliness in a sample of migrant children in China. A total of 437 participants were selected from two public schools for migrant children in Zhejiang Province, China. All participants were asked to complete four measures, including the Perceived Economic Strain Scale, the Parent–Child Communication Questionnaire, the Parental Warmth Scale, and the Children’s Loneliness Scale. The results showed that economic pressure was positively and directly related to loneliness. Furthermore, parent–child communication and parental warmth partially mediated the relationship between economic pressure and loneliness in migrant children. Thus, parent–child communication and parental warmth play important roles in reducing the negative effect of economic pressure on loneliness in migrant children.


Economic stress Parent–child communication Parental warmth Loneliness Children of migrant workers 



This study was supported by grants from the National Foundation of Natural Science (Grant Number: 31400889), and 521 Training Programme Foundation for the Talents and the Science Foundation of Zhejiang Sci-Tech University (Grant Number: 13062175-Y). We are grateful to the support from the project of the National Children’s Study of China.


  1. 1.
    Lall SV, Selod H, Shalizi Z (2006) Rural-urban migration in developing countries: A survey of theoretical predictions and empirical findings. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 3915. Available at SSRN:
  2. 2.
    Deshingkar P, Akter S (2009) Migration and human development in India (Human Development Research Paper 2009/13). United Nations Development Programme, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Manning C, Meng X (2010) The great migration in China and Indonesia: trends and institutions. In: Meng X, Manning C, Shi L, Effendi TN (eds) The great migration: rural-urban migration in China and Indonesia. Edward Elgar Publishing, CheltenhamGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    All China Women’s Federation (2013) Report on rural left-behind children and urban migrant children.
  5. 5.
    Fang L, Sun RCF, Yuen M (2016) Acculturation, economic stress, social relationships and school satisfaction among migrant children in urban China. J Happiness Stud 17:507–531CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Chen B (2014) Rural-to-urban migrant children’s behaviors and adaptation within migration social contexts in China. In: Dimitrova R, Bender M, van de Vijver F (eds) Global perspectives on wellbeing in immigrant families. Springer, New York, pp 75–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Jia X, Liu X (2017) Perceived discrimination and antisocial behavior among Chinese rural-to-urban migrant adolescents: mediating effects of social support. Int J Psychol 52:327–335CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Li X, Stanton B, Fang X, Lin D (2006) Social stigma and mental health among rural-to-urban migrants in china: a conceptual framework and future research needs. World Health Popul 8:14–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Wang L, Mesman J (2015) Child development in the face of rural-to-urban migration in china: a meta-analytic review. Perspect Psychol Sci 10:813–831CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Conger R, Conger K, Elder G, Lorenz F, Simons RL, Whitbeck LB (1992) A family process model of economic hardship and adolescent adjustment of early adolescent boys. Hum Dev 63:526–541Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Conger RD, Donellan MB (2007) An interactionist perspective on the socioeconomic context of human development. Annu Rev Psychol 58:175–199CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Masarik AS, Conger RD (2017) Stress and child development: a review of the family stress model. Curr Opin Psychol 13:85–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Liu D, Yu X, Wang Y, Zhang Y, Ren G (2014) The impact of perception of discrimination and sense of belonging on the loneliness of the children of Chinese migrant workers: a structural equation modeling analysis. Int J Ment Health Syst 8:52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Lu Y, Zhao T (2013) Academic achievement and loneliness of migrant children in China: school segregation and segmented assimilation. Comp Educ Rev 57:85–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Peplau LA, Perlman D (1982) Loneliness: a sourcebook of current theory, research, and therapy. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Burke TJ, Woszidlo A, Segrin C (2012) Social skills, family conflict, and loneliness in families. Commun Rep 25:75–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Feeney JA (2006) Parental attachment and conflict behavior: Implications for offspring’s attachment, loneliness, and relationship satisfaction. Pers Relatsh 13:19–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    McLoyd VC (1998) Socioeconomic disadvantage and child development. Am Psychol 53:185–204CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    McLoyd VC (1990) The impact of economic hardship on black families and children: psychological distress, parenting, and socioemotional development. Child Dev 61:311–346CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Munz EA (2015) Parent-child communication. The International Encyclopedia of Interpersonal Communication. 1–5Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Solomon SM (2000) Childhood loneliness: implications and intervention considerations for family therapists. Fam J 8(2):161–164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Su S, Li X, Lin D, Xu X, Zhu M (2013) Psychological adjustment among left-behind children in rural China: the role of parental migration and parent-child communication. Child Care Health Dev 39:162–170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Rodriguez EM, Nichols SR, Javdani S, Emerson E, Donenberg GR (2015) Economic hardship, parent positive communication and mental health in urban adolescents seeking outpatient psychiatric care. J Child Fam Stud 24:617–627CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Davidson S, Adams J (2013) Adversity and internalizing problems among rural Chinese adolescents: the roles of parents and teachers. Int J Behav Dev 37:530–541CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Greenberger E, Chen C, Tally S, Dong Q (2000) Family, peer, and individual correlates of depressive symptomatolgy in U.S. and Chinese adolescents. J Consult Clin Psychol 68:209–219CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Pettit GS, Bates JE, Dodge KA (1997) Supportive parenting, ecological context, and children’s adjustment: a sever-year longitudinal study. Child Dev 68:908–923Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Jackson T (2007) Protective self-presentation, sources of socialization, and loneliness among Australian adolescents and young adults. Pers Individ Differ 43:1552–1562CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Rotenberg KJ (1999) Parental antecedents of children’s loneliness. In: Rotenberg KJ, Hymel S (eds) Loneliness in childhood and adolescence. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 176–200CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Stickley A, Koyanagi A, Koposov R, Blatny M, Hrdlicka M, Schwab-Stone M, Ruchkin V (2016) Loneliness and its association with psychological and somatic health problems among Czech, Russian and U.S. adolescents. BMC Psychiatry 16:128–139CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Wang M, Zhou Z (2015) Influence of parental warmth on adolescents’ loneliness: analysis of multiple mediation effect. Psychol Explor 35:41–44Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Mistry RS, Lowe ED, Benner AD, Chien N (2008) Expanding the family economic stress model: insights from a mixed-methods approach. J Marriage Fam 70:196–209CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Dong Q, Lin C (2011) Brief introduction of standardized test of psychological development of Chinese children. Science Press, BeijingGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Yang X, Zou H (2008) Characteristics of parent-adolescent communication. Psychol Dev Educ 24:49–54Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Fang X, Dai L, Fang C, Deng L (2006) The relationship between parent-adolescent communication problems and adolescents social adjustments. Psychol Dev Educ 22:47–52Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Asher SR, Hymel S, Renshaw PD (1984) Loneliness in children. Child Dev 55:1456–1464CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Hu L, Bentler PM (1999) Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: conventional versus new alternatives. Struct Equ Model 6:1–55CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Tucker LR, Lewis C (1973) A reliability coefficient for maximum likelihood factor analysis. Psychometrika 38:1–10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Bentler PM (1990) Comparative fit indexes in structural models. Psychol Bull 170:238–246CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Steiger JH (1980) Test for comparing elements of a correlation matrix. Psychol Bull 87:245–251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Steiger JH, Shapiro A, Browne MW (1985) On the multivariate asymptotic distribution of sequential chi-square statistics. Psychometrika 50:253–263CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Cheung GW, Rensvold RB (2002) Evaluating goodness-of-fit indexes for testing measurement invariance. Struct Equ Model 9:233–255CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Chen FE (2007) Sensitivity of goodness of fit indexes to lack of measurement invariance. Struct Equ Model 14:464–504CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Hayes AF, Scharkow M (2013) The relative trustworthiness of inferential tests of the indirect effect in statistical mediation analysis does method really matter. Psychol Sci 24:1918–1927CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Preacher KJ, Hayes AF (2008) Asymptotic and resampling strategies for assessing and comparing indirect effects in multiple mediator models. Behav Res Methods 40:879–891CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Williams J, MacKinnon DP (2008) Resampling and distribution of the product methods for testing indirect effects in complex models. Struct Equ Modeling 15:23–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Bradley E, Tibshirani RJ (1985) The bootstrap method for assessing statistical accuracy. Behaviormetrika 17:1–35Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Weston R, Gore PA (2006) A brief guide to structural equation modeling. Couns Psychol 34:719–751CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Urquiza A, Timmer S (2014) Parent-child interaction therapy for maltreated children. In: Timmer S, Urquiza A (eds) Evidence based approaches for the treatment of maltreated children: considering core components and treatment effectiveness, vol 3, 1st edn. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 123–144CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Chen L, Liu Y (2012) The characteristics of migrant children’s communication with their parents and its relationship with migrant children’s mental health. Chin J Spec Educ 1:58–63Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Ainsworth MD (1989) Attachments beyond infancy. Am Psychol 44:709–716CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Dykas MJ, Ziv Y, Cassidy J (2008) Attachment and peer relationship in adolescence. Attach Hum Dev 10:123–141CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Mistry RS, Vandewater EA, Huston AC, McLoyd VC (2002) Economic well-being and children’s social adjustment: the role of family process in an ethnically diverse low-income sample. Child Dev 73:935–951CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Duan C, Lv L, Wang Z (2014) Research on left-behind children’s home education and school education. Peking Univ Educ Rev 12:13–29Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    Podsakoff PM, MacKenzie SB, Lee JY, Podsakoff NP (2003) Common method biases in behavioral research: a critical review of the literature and recommended remedies. J Appl Psychol 88:879–903CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Lodder GMA, Goossens L, Scholte RHJ, Engels RCME, Verhagen M (2016) Adolescent loneliness and social skills: agreementand discrepancies between self-, meta-, and peer-evaluations. J Youth Adolesc 45:2406–2416CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Spithoven AWM, Lodder GMA, Goossens L, Rijttebier P, Bastin M, Verhagen M, Scholte RHJ (2017) Adolescents’ loneliness and depression associated with friendship experiences and well-being: a person-centered approach. J Youth Adolescence 46:429–441CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    Ucanok Z, Gure AE (2014) Perceived economic strain and psychological well-being: the mediational role of parental relations in Turkish early adolescents. J Early Adolesc 34:685–711CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. 58.
    Mcgrath H, Noble T (2010) Supporting positive pupil relationships: research to practice. Edu Child Psychol 27:79–89Google Scholar
  59. 59.
    Wong DFK, Leung G (2008) The functions of social support in the mental health of male and female migrant workers in China. Health Soc Work 33:275–285CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. 60.
    Zhao F, Yu G (2016) Parental migration and rural left-behind children’s mental health in China: a meta-analysis based on mental health test. J Child Fam Stud 25:3462–3472CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Liuhua Ying
    • 1
    Email author
  • Qing Yan
    • 1
  • Xin Shen
    • 1
  • Xuji Jia
    • 2
  • Chongde Lin
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyZhejiang Sci-Tech UniversityHangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Academy of Psychology and BehaviorTianjin Normal UniversityTianjinPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Institute of Developmental PsychologyBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

Personalised recommendations