Strain, school type, and delinquent behavior among migrant adolescents in China

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Guided by the general strain theory, this study compared the delinquent behavior of migrant adolescents in different types of schools with their urban counterparts and investigated whether strain indicators mediated the relationship between adolescents’ migration and school status and delinquency. Survey participants were 485 migrant students (126 are in public schools and 359 in migrant schools) and 836 urban students in 32 middle schools in Guangzhou, China. The findings revealed higher levels of delinquency among migrant adolescents in informal migrant schools but less delinquent behavior among those in urban public schools. Several types of strain were positively associated with delinquency among Chinese adolescents. Moreover, strain variables largely accounted for the differences in delinquency between migrant adolescents in migrant schools and urban adolescents. In contrast, migrant adolescents enrolled in public schools committed fewer delinquent behaviors than urban adolescents when controlling for strain measures. Policy implications of this study were discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-376
Number of pages20
JournalAsian Journal of Criminology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Data of this article were funded by the South China Program, Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.


  • China
  • Delinquent behavior
  • General strain theory
  • Migrant adolescents
  • Type of school


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