Father Absence Due to Migration and Child Health in Mexico

Kammi Schmeer, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

This paper assesses how father absence due to migration affects child illness in rural Mexico; and whether inclusion in an important social welfare program—PROGRESA—alters this effect. Using prospective data and longitudinal regression models, I find that father absence due to migration increases the probability of illness among children under age six by 7%. This effect doubles to 14% when households are not receiving PROGRESA. When households are enrolled in PROGRESA, the effect of father absence due to migration is small and statistically insignificant. These results suggest that in poor, rural Mexican households paternal migration may have negative consequences for child well-being, especially in the short term. Further, social welfare programs may provide important resources that can protect child health when these households experience the temporary loss of a key family member.

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Presented in Session 168: Determinants of Child Health in Developing Countries