Parental Absence in Childhood and Criminal Behaviour: Prison Data in China
Large-scale rural-to-urban migration has resulted in dramatic changes in Chinese family structure over the past three decades. The barriers to bringing the children of migrants to the cities resulting from China's household registration (hukou) system has resulted in an estimated 61 million children in China being left behind in rural villages when their parents migrate to the cities. This lack of parental care and guidance has given rise to concern about potential social consequence.
This seminar uses unique survey and experimental data from male prison inmates and their comparable non-inmates to examine whether parental absence in childhood is associated with increased criminality in adulthood. We find that parental absence in childhood increases the propensity of grown men to commit crimes. Our experimental data show that being left-behind increases risk-loving behaviours. Being left behind also results in reduced educational attainment. We find no effect on personality traits or time preferences. Both lower educational attainment and more risk-loving behaviour increase the propensity to commit crimes.
Professor Lisa Cameron, Professorial Research Fellow at the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research at the University of Melbourne
Professor Lisa Cameron
Professorial Research Fellow at the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research at the University of Melbourne
University of Melbourne
Professor Lisa Cameron is a Professorial Research Fellow at the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research at the University of Melbourne, where she leads the research area on ‘Disadvantage and WellBeing in the AsiaPacific’. She is an empirical microeconomist who received her PhD in Economics from Princeton University in 1996. Her research focuses on issues of social welfare and poverty, in Australia and throughout Asia (particularly Indonesia and China), and often incorporates the techniques of experimental and behavioural economics to better understand human decisionmaking. Much of her research focuses on policy evaluation understanding the impacts and behavioural implications of public policy. She is particularly interested in the socioeconomic determinants of health and wellbeing and the welfare of disadvantaged and marginalised groups. Her work in this area has included examining the welfare of people living in poverty, people living with a disability (Indonesia), sexworkers (Indonesia), female international migrant workers (Indonesia), prison inmates (China) and Indigenous youth (Australia). She has also written extensively on gender inequality. She often collaborates on research projects with government and international agencies such as the World Bank and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. She is an adjunct Research Fellow at ANU’s Indonesia Project and an Affiliated Professor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Poverty Action Lab (JPAL). In 2013 she was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences.