Globally, there is a staggering 83% increase of the international migrant population, from 153 million in 1990 to 281 million in 2020 (United Nations, 2020), with the majority of these migrants originating from low-/middle-income economies in search of employment (International Organization for Migration, 2020). Consequently, there is a growing number of children ‘left-behind’ in their country of origin, with official estimates suggesting over half a million children of migrants left behind in European countries. The public representation is that these children’s short and long-term well-being is highly impacted by this separation. Nevertheless, the literature contains conflicting evidence, in some cases indicating no significant differences between ‘left-behind’ children and their counterparts.
The current status of the ‘left-behind’ children research faces multiple limitations and challenges. The first one concerns the disregard of outcome variability in ‘left-behind’ children.
The current representation of these children is negative and mostly based on studies in rural China, while findings on European children are mostly conflicting with regards to the outcomes of parental migration. These contradicting findings imply that the relationship between parental migration and child well-being outcomes is not straightforward, highlighting that focusing solely on the average effects of parental migration: (1) conceals the sizable degree of variability that exists in children’s adjustment, and consequently, (2) impedes the development of literature-informed risk-assessment tools for children’s post-migration maladjustment, ultimately (3) obstructing children’s access to effective intervention/ prevention strategies when facing temporary parental separation.
Secondly, given the contradicting evidence suggesting children’s well-being multifinality following parental migration, the next challenge is: Why do some children display affective-behavioural problems and school performance decrements as a consequence of parental economic (temporary) migration, while others remain relatively invulnerable to such problems or even thrive? This highlights the need to investigate this issue accounting for possible key factors that, in the presence of parental migration, lead to different patterns of adaptation.
The general aim is to extend the current limited understanding regarding the impact of parental migration upon children’s psychosocial well-being.
First, we aim to investigate the independent and interactive contributions of potential risk and resilience factors involved in school-children’s post-parental migration outcomes (i.e., internalizing symptoms, conduct and peer-relations problems, academic outcomes). In this respect, we will:
Second, by employing a 3-wave longitudinal design, we aim to investigate:
The project is relevant for both researchers in the field of child development, as well as for practitioners and policy makers in child wellbeing, healthcare, and education.