The impact of migration on marriage, childbearing and child-rearing profoundly shapes the gendered outcomes around new economic opportunities. This study focuses on the reproductive strategies of low-income rural-urban migrants in Vietnam. Using life histories from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, the project built up a picture of the range of family strategies that poor men and women migrants used during their peak child-bearing and early child-rearing years. Some migrants tried to make a life for their family in the city; some migrated as a couple or one parent stayed behind with children; and for others nobody in their immediate family lived together. The costs of these family strategies for migrants were highly gendered in terms of migrant experiences and their fulfilment of social identity as others/wives or husbands/fathers. Those struggling to raise children in the city faced many economic and administrative barriers. Those leaving children behind traded off providing for their children with caring for their children. Those for whom nobody in the family lived together felt a deep sense of failure. Universally, migrants were concerned about the impact of parental separation on young children’s moral and social development, particularly where migration was long distance and precluded ‘remote parenting’. Although their anxieties privileged lack of mothering as a concern, they also consistently raised important worries about lack of fathering. Nevertheless, the time when children are ‘still young’ and parents are ‘not yet old’ represents a unique opportunity for migrants to try to improve their families’ lives.
Locke, Catherine (2010) Linking Migration, Reproduction and Wellbeing: Exploring The Reproductive Strategies of Low-Income Rural-Urban Migrants in Vietnam ESRC End of Award Report, RES-167-25-0327, ESRC, Swindon, UK