Child Well-Being, Imperfect Information, and Patterns of Rural-Urban Migration

Joost de Laat, Université du Québec à Montréal

Urban areas in developing countries are almost universally associated with lower child mortality and better educational opportunities than rural areas. Yet fifty three percent of all biological children of primary school ages born to married migrant men living in the Nairobi slums, are not living in Nairobi. Similarly, adult men outnumber adult women in all age cohorts by as much as 2.7 to 1. This paper, based on data collected in two Nairobi slums in 2004, argues that urban-rural price variation for child-related goods, as well as information asymmetries that can arise within the household when rural families embark upon split migration, are important for understanding migration patterns more generally, and this pattern in particular. With the developing world urbanizing rapidly, the Nairobi situation may become increasingly common.

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Presented in Session 64: Migration and Wellbeing in Developing Countries