The effects of parental migration on children’s health: The relative consequences of migration before and after birth

Emily Treleaven1, William Axinn1
1University of Michigan

Although the relationship between parental migration and the health of children left behind has been examined in a range of settings, prior research has failed to consider parents’ migration experience before children’s birth. Yet, migrants differ from non-migrants in important ways that may also affect children’s health outcomes. Using data from the Chitwan Valley Family Study, a panel study in a migrant-sending area in Nepal, we analyze the effect of fathers’ international migration before versus after children’s birth on undernutrition among children under five, compared to fathers who never migrate. In mixed-effect regressions, we find fathers’ migration before birth is protective against acute malnutrition. Next, we will employ inverse probability of treatment weights for multiple treatments to more rigorously account for selection into migration trajectories. These findings contribute to our understanding of the countervailing effects of wealth and parental absence on children’s health outcomes.