Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Father's Migration and Leaving the Parental Home in Rural Mozambique

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Father's Migration and Leaving the Parental Home in Rural Mozambique

Article excerpt

Adolescence is a "demographically dense" (Rindfuss, 1991) stage of the life course-a period when individuals may enter and exit school, begin working for pay, take on new domestic responsibilities, form sexual and romantic relationships, marry or cohabit, leave the parental home, and have their own children. The timing, sequencing, and context of these transitions into adult roles set the stage for adult lives and the degree to which they are healthy, productive, and fulfilling (National Research Council & Institute of Medicine, 2005; UNICEF, 2011). In most contexts-particularly those without well-developed public institutions-family is the primary source of social, practical, and financial resources for taking on adult roles (Brown & Larson, 2002; Steinberg, 2001). Therefore, family processes are central to understanding variation in transitions to adulthood.

Parental labor migration, particularly by fathers, is widespread and increasing worldwide (UNICEF, 2008). In many developing countries, parental labor migration is an important determinant of family context for children left behind. The economic remittances sent by migrant workers can transform economic conditions for their families, and the father's absence can alter both parent-child relationships and the relationship between spouses. Paternal migration can thus have a substantial influence on the social, economic, and health conditions in which children are raised. Although extensive research has examined how these conditions affect child well-being (e.g., Antai, Wedren, Bellocco, & Moradi, 2010; Kiros & White, 2004; Yabiku, Agadjanian, & Cau, 2012), less is known about how paternal migration shapes adolescents' transitions to adult roles. These impacts are likely to differ because adolescents have different opportunities and responsibilities than younger children, and so they are likely to be affected differently by additional household resources and by parental absence.

Leaving the parental household is one of the key events that occur during the transition to adulthood. It is a theoretically important marker of adulthood because the physical separation between parents and children is linked to a decline in direct parental care and supervision of children and in the level of resources provided by parents to children. In rural Mozambique, where this study was carried out, it is rare for young people to establish households alone. Instead, leaving the parental household is usually part of another transition, such as marriage or migration. Both marriage and migration decisions, in turn, are closely linked to educational enrollment and attainment. Thus, decisions about home-leaving are made jointly with decisions about other adolescent roles and transitions.

In this study we used rich longitudinal survey data collected from rural households in Gaza Province in southern Mozambique, an area characterized by high rates of male labor migration, to assess the association between father's migration and adolescent children's departure from the parental home. Models used multivariate logistic regression to predict residential transitions across two waves of survey data. We accounted for several dimensions of migration, including whether remittances were sent and duration of migration, as well as the migration itself. In addition, because adult roles are highly gender differentiated in this context, we considered differences in the impact of migration on boys and girls.

Background

Parental Migration and Children Left Behind

A growing body of literature has examined the impact of parental migration on child well-being in origin communities. Various aspects of child well-being have been studied, including schooling, physical health, mortality, and emotional health. Studies have produced mixed findings regarding whether parental migration benefits children's outcomes (Frisancho Robles & Oropesa, 2011; Hu, 2012; Jordan & Graham, 2012; Lee, 2011; Vogel & Korinek, 2012). …

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