Instability in Migrant Parent Absences and Educational Outcomes of Left-behind Children

Rebecca Wang , Brown University

My study examines the relationship between circular migration and educational outcomes of left-behind children. I utilize data from the South African Agincourt Health and Demographic Surveillance System, a longitudinal population register that includes annual measurement of the number of months (out of a calendar year) migrants live apart from their children. I construct trajectories of parental migration and use sequence analysis to categorize parents by the number of migration events and the durations of absence each year. Findings suggest capturing the family instability that stems from recurrent in- and out- migrations and changing durations of absence year after year is an important feature of migration patterns. I demonstrate that young children who experience greater instability are less likely to enroll in first grade by age 7. This is in line with theoretical expectations that chronic disruption and the attendant environment of uncertainty translates into worse outcomes for young children.

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 Presented in Session 171. Temporary and Circular Migration