Internal Migration, International Migration, and Physical Growth of Left-Behind Children: A Study of Two Settings

Lu, Yao

Parental out-migration has become a common experience of childhood worldwide and tends to have important ramifications for child development. There has been much debate on whether overall children benefit or suffer from parental out-migration. The present study examines how the relationship between parental out-migration and children’s growth differs by the type of migration (internal vs. international). This comparison is conducted in two diverse settings, Mexico and Indonesia. Data are from two national longitudinal surveys: the Mexican Family Life Survey and the Indonesian Family Life Survey. Results from fixed-effect regressions show that international migration tends to have a less beneficial, sometimes even more detrimental, impact on the growth of children left behind than internal migration. Results also reveal contextual differences in the role of parental out-migration. Possible explanations are discussed.

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December 10, 2019