Household Migration, Remittances, and Their Impact on Health in Indonesia

Lu, Yao

The growing flow of migrant’s remittances has generated much interest in understanding the socioeconomic consequences of household migration for individuals and families in migrant-sending areas. This paper examines the effect of household migration on health status, as measured by nutritional status, of adults who remained behind in rural Indonesia, a setting with high rate of out-migration and poor nutritional profiles. Assuming that remittances may improve household economic resources and thus change dietary intake and health-related investment, household migration may be associated with both the risks of undernutrition and overnutrition. The analyses use longitudinal data from the Indonesian Family Life Survey and fixed-effect regressions. The results show that adults in emigrant household were significantly less susceptible to being underweight than those in non-migrant households, but they did not have increased risk of being overweight. The improved nutritional status was restricted to people in households with labor migrants, highlighting the role of remittances in improving nutritional intake. The health gain also was concentrated among women, increased with the number of out-migrants, and was revealed over time as remittances arrived. Overall, this study demonstrates the beneficial role of household migration, especially the resulting remittances, in the health status of household members in resource-constrained settings. Improving transfers of remittances would be helpful in reducing the problem of undernutrition in poor migrant-sending areas.

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International Migration

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September 30, 2015