International and Domestic Economic Migration and Children’s Growth Outcomes in Guatemala

Jason Davis, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Noli Brazil, Yale University

Historically, Guatemalans have suffered high rates of poverty and malnutrition while nearly ten percent of their population resides abroad. This investigation quantifies associations among Guatemalan fathers’ and mothers’ international and domestic migration, remittances and left-behind child growth. Based on year 2000 national-level data, preliminary findings include: for every month a father was abroad the previous year, a left-behind child aged <3 was 26.3 and 26.6 percent more likely to be stunted or severely stunted, respectively. Additionally, a left-behind child aged <5 was 16.2 percent more likely to be underweight. In contrast, no significant findings were shown among remittances, mothers’ migration or fathers’ domestic migration and measures of child growth. Many parents use migration as a means to improve the livelihoods of their children. However, as the preliminary results from this study show, these altruistic actions may have an ultimate and permanent negative impact on their children’s well-being.

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Presented in Session 28: Remittances and Consequences of Migration