Abstract: Social Capital in Promoting the Psychosocial Adjustment of Chinese Migrant Children (Society for Social Work and Research 14th Annual Conference: Social Work Research: A WORLD OF POSSIBILITIES)

12156 Social Capital in Promoting the Psychosocial Adjustment of Chinese Migrant Children

Saturday, January 16, 2010: 8:00 AM
Garden Room A (Hyatt Regency)
* noted as presenting author
Qiaobing Wu, PhD , University of Southern California, Postdoctoral Fellow, Los Angeles, CA
Background and Purpose: Migrant children have become a fast growing population in mainland China as a consequence of China's internal migration, which is characterized by a population flow from rural to urban areas in search of better living conditions. However, government policies designed to control the flow of migration render these children ineligible for many social services, placing them at higher risk of developing psychosocial adjustment problems. Applying the social capital theoretical framework and employing an ecological perspective, this study aims to investigate how social capital (i.e. resources inherent in social relationships that facilitate a social outcome) (Coleman, 1988) embedded in the family, school, peer, and community influences the psychosocial adjustment of Chinese migrant children as they exist simultaneously. It also examines the mechanism by which multiple dimensions of social capital operate on children's psychosocial adjustment through complex mediating pathways. Methods: Data for the study comes from a questionnaire survey with 772 4th to 9th grade migrant students as well as their parents in Shanghai, China. Psychosocial adjustment was assessed by self-esteem, depression, hostility, and life satisfaction, using standardized scales that have been validated in the Chinese context: Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1965), Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale for Children (Faulstich et al., 1986), Aggression Questionnaire (Buss & Perry, 1992), and Satisfaction with Life Scale (Diener, Emmons, Larsen, & Griffin, 1985). Family social capital was assessed by parent-child interactions and parental monitoring, using the Parent-Child Relationship Inventory (Dixon, Fair, & Bernies, 2004) and two self-designed parental monitoring scales. School social capital was assessed by school climate and student-teacher relationships, using items adapted from the Inventory of School Climate-Student Version (Brand et al., 2003). Peer social capital was measured by the quality of peer relationships, using the Friendship Qualities Scale (Bukowski, Hoza, & Boivin, 1994). And community social capital was assessed by social cohesion and trust among neighborhood adults and children, informal social control, and neighborhood solidarity (Sampson et al., 1997; Drukker, Kaplan, Feron, & Os, 2003). Structural equation modeling (via Mplus 5.0) was employed to test the hypothesized model of social capital effects. Results: The hypothesized model provided a good fit to the data (Chi Square=701.748, df=377, p<.001, CFI=.950, RMSEA=.033). Family (Beta=.310, p <.001), school (Beta=.344, p <.001), and peer social capital (Beta=.200, p<.01) all showed significant direct effects on the psychosocial adjustment of migrant children. Community social capital did not show significant direct effect (Beta=.092, NS); however, higher levels of community social capital was associated with higher levels of each of the other three dimensions of social capital, thus leading to children's better psychosocial adjustment through significant mediating pathways (total indirect effect=.176). Conclusions and Implications: This study reaffirmed the significance of social capital in promoting the psychosocial adjustment of Chinese migrant children. It suggested utilizing social capital building as an innovation approach in the design and delivery of social service programs. It also advocated for community building at the structural level as a means to develop social capital, thus enhancing the psychosocial well-being of vulnerable youths.