The Chinese government’s decision to end the decades-old one-child policy will probably complicate an already difficult situation for China’s left-behind children — those left at home in rural areas when their parents migrate to cities in search of work — since it will increase their number and demands for their care. According to statistics from the All China’s Women’s Foundation, one in five children nationally — an estimated 61 million children — grow up without one or both parents.

Rapid economic development in many countries has forced millions of workers to emigrate from rural areas to cities in search of employment. This is particularly evident in the case of China, where over the past generation over 270 million Chinese laborers have left the country’s poorer inland provinces to find work in coastal towns and cities. This is considered the largest human voluntary migration ever.

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