Millions of children are left behind when their parents migrate from home to another place. This study examines whether parental migration can affect health and cognitive ability of left-behind children aged at 5–8 years old in Ethiopia, India, Peru, and Vietnam. It uses data on 7725 children in the four countries collected from Young Lives surveys in 2007 and 2009. It finds that although parental migration helps families increase per capita consumption, it does not improve health and cognitive ability of children. The effect of parental migration varies across different countries and different types of migration. In Ethiopia, parental migration does not have a significant effect on children. However, parental migration reduces health outcomes of children in other three countries and decreases cognitive ability test scores in India and Vietnam. The negative effect on children tends to be higher for long-term parental migration than short-term parental migration.
Cuong Viet Nguyen. Does parental migration really benefit left-behind children? Comparative evidence from Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam. Social Science and Medicine (2016) 153: 230-239. [DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2016.02.021]