Working Paper T28. Child Migration in National Surveys.


In an attempt to fill the existing gap in the availability and use of quantitative data on child migration, the Development Research Centre on Migration, Globalisation and Poverty (Migration DRC) has developed a unique catalogue of existing national-level household surveys and censuses in developing countries. This collection of household surveys and censuses contains information on and access to data that can be used to analyse child migration; it forms an integral part of the Migration in National Surveys (MiNS) catalogue created by the Migration DRC. Work on the MiNS catalogue began in 2006 with the compilation of a list of nationally representative household surveys from developing countries that included information about migration. The first version of the MiNS catalogue did not contain a child migration component and was published on the Migration DRC website in September 2007.

This paper uses part of the data collected in the MiNS catalogue to investigate how the theme of child migration is treated in some of the existing household surveys and censuses and how these data have been or could be used to study child migration. The paper highlights some of the strengths and limitations of the survey questionnaires, and of the subsequent data, in terms of measuring and analysing child migration. It also assesses how the data from household surveys have been used in official reports and other relevant publications. In doing so, the paper describes the objectives, the structure and the content of the MiNS catalogue. However, it should be emphasised that this paper does not delve into issues of sampling methodology and how this might affect the quality of data on child migrants. Furthermore, although the catalogue currently provides access to data from CLS and IS surveys, this part of the database is still under construction. As a result, the paper primarily focuses on how LSMS surveys, DHS surveys and censuses are relevant to questions of child migration.

The structure of the paper is as follows: Section 2 describes the objectives, the structure and the coverage of the MiNS catalogue. Section 3 deals with how the topics of 'general migration' and 'child migration' are treated in questionnaires of LSMS surveys, DHS surveys and censuses, and discusses the strengths and weaknesses of these surveys in relation to child migration variables. Section 4 reviews how child migration is treated in official reports and other relevant publications that use the data from household surveys, and considers how the use of these data for the analysis of child migration could be enhanced or improved. The focus here is on the analysis of the number of migrant children, the characteristics of the children and their families, and the links between children's migration and poverty. Finally, Section 5 provides an overview of the paper, making some concluding remarks about the scope of child migration data in national surveys.


WP-T28, Sussex, UK, DRC on Migration, Globalisation and Poverty, 48 pp.

Working Paper T28. Child Migration in National Surveys.

Published 1 January 2009