Academic journal article Demographic Research

New Perspective on Youth Migration: Motives and Family Investment Patterns

Academic journal article Demographic Research

New Perspective on Youth Migration: Motives and Family Investment Patterns

Article excerpt

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

1. Introduction

Increasingly, youth in developing countries2 are diversifying their opportunities through both domestic and international migration (McKenzie 2008; Yaqub 2009a). Though data detailing precise estimates by age are absent in most low- and middle-income countries, those younger than 18 years old represent approximately one-fourth of all migrants, and the proportion of youth as migrants is increasing (Global Migration Group 2014; Yaqub 2009a). Current research often assumes that youth are either dependent migrants who move alongside parents, or who, like adults, are labor migrants driven by wage differences and diversification of household risk, who will soon provide economic returns to their families (Tienda, Taylor, and Moghan 2007). Herein, I build on research highlighting the fact that education opportunities-both domestic and international- motivate youth migration (Boyden 2013; Crivello 2011; de Brauw and Giles 2008; McKenzie 2008). When present-day labor opportunities motivate migration, families often expect remittances and relatively quick returns on their investment (Massey et al. 1993; Stark and Bloom 1985; Todaro 1969). In contrast, parents of education migrants undertake a costly, multiyear investment period.

Using the example of Haiti, I question prevailing migration theory frameworks as they pertain to youth, and incorporate domestic education migration as a potential motive that can still diversify household risk across economic sectors and geographic regions, albeit over a longer time horizon (Stark and Bloom 1985). This novel perspective contributes to the literature by building on current understandings of education and migration, which are limited to the consequences of education accumulated prior to migration (de Haas 2010; Massey et al. 1993; Smith and King 2012). It also diversifies research on youth migration, which largely emphasizes factory growth in Asia and agricultural and domestic labor opportunities in Africa as its primary drivers (Hertrich and Lesclingand 2013; Knodel and Saengtienchai 2007; Mills 1999; Puri and Busza 2004). Highlighting education migration among youth illustrates the idea that migration motives vary across the life course, and that families may use education migration to adapt to changing global contexts.

Haiti, where rates of youth migration are historically high, provides an ideal context for this study. The escalating demand for education, limited availability of education institutions in certain areas, cultural values that encourage migration, and land pressures that limit farming opportunities act jointly to encourage geographic mobility (Bredl 2011; Mintz 2010; Schwartz 2009). Drawing on data from the 2009 Haiti Youth Study, a nationally representative sample of youth aged 10 to 24 years, I first determine how primary migration motives differ with age. I then examine how time spent as an education or labor migrant is associated with particular characteristics, using discrete-time event history analysis. Finally, I determine the factors associated with families' provision of financial support, using Heckman probit models for two different samples of youth migrants- those identified by households of origin and those identified at destinations. To provide context for this study, I first describe the social and historical context of migration in the region and how regional changes have generated a demand for more highly-skilled labor migrants, and review the current empirical evidence on youth migration.

1.1 Economic change, labor demands, and migration

Opportunities available to youth migrants depend on the social and economic characteristics of the origin and potential destinations. Intra-Caribbean migration patterns follow wage labor opportunities, and Haiti is the region's largest producer of migrant laborers due to its relatively large population, political instability, and poverty (Ferguson 2003). …

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