As international labor migration becomes a more common livelihood strategy globally, this widespread population and social change has profound demographic and health consequences, including for young children left behind by migrating parents or family members. Many children left behind receive remittance income from migrant parents or family members. However, identifying the effects of this additional income on children’s health is difficult in light of other important, concurrent migration-related household changes, such as changes in living arrangements due to parental absence. Moreover, prospective identification of children’s likelihood of having a migrant parent or family member and receipt of remittance is necessary to understand the population of children at risk, which has important implications for child health policies and programs. Studying the links between migration, remittances, and children’s health requires detailed measures over time. Therefore, the objective of the proposed research is twofold: first, to examine children’s risks of having a parent or household member migrate for work and receive remittance income, and second, to examine how remittance income affects the health of children in migrant-sending households while accounting for changes in household composition and wealth over time.
This project uses data from a panel study in a migrant-sending area that includes data on individuals, households, and communities. The availability of detailed migration, remittance, and child health data over time provides a unique opportunity to study these questions in three specific aims. The first research aim will use prospective data about children and their parents, households, and communities to estimate children’s risks of parental migration and receipt of remittances. This aim will build knowledge about how children in migrant-sending and non-migrant households differ, informing both public health programs in migrant-sending areas and studies of migration and child health. The second research aim will improve upon prior estimates of the effects of remittance income on the health of children left behind by appropriately accounting for individual and household-level factors that shape the relationships between migration, remittances, and child health over time. The third research aim will investigate the whether and how the relationship between remittance income and child health varies over time and by gender in early childhood. These analyses will use advanced epidemiologic methods and event history modeling to study this complex phenomenon.
Migration and its related social, demographic, and economic changes are increasingly important considerations for policymakers and others seeking to improve children?s health. This research will enhance our understanding of the mechanisms through which parental migration shapes the health of children left behind, in particular, remittance income; identify promising avenues for future research in this area; and generate rigorous evidence for effective child health interventions.