Father’s Migration and Child Illness in India: How Does the Effect Vary by Community Socioeconomic Development and Community Gender Context?

Lei Lei
Sonalde B. Desai, India Human Development Survey
Feinian Chen, University of Maryland

Due to international and internal migration, millions of children in developing countries are geographically separated from one or both parents. Prior research has not reached a conclusion about the impact of parental outmigration on children’s well-being and little is known about under what conditions parental out-migration is harmful or beneficial to children’s health. Using data from the Indian Human Development Survey in 2011-12, we estimate community fixed-effect Poisson regression models predicting the number of sick days due to acute illness. Results show that father's outmigration is associated with higher risks of illness among girls but not boys in India. In communities with higher levels of socioeconomic development, father's outmigration is related to an increased likelihood of child illness, but it reduces the risk of illness in less-developed rural communities. The positive association between father’s absence and girls’ illness is further exacerbated in communities with more strict norms of female seclusion.

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 Presented in Session 55. Migration, Community Context, and Health