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The impact of migratory separation from parents on the health of adolescents in the Philippines

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  • Smeekens, Chantal
  • Stroebe, Margaret S.
  • Abakoumkin, Georgios
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    Abstract

    In the Philippines, as in several other low and middle-income countries in the world, it is usual for parents to leave the country to work abroad in order to improve the situation of their children who remain behind. However, stressful life events such as the separation from a parent are known to have a severe impact on physical and mental health of children. This study, conducted in 2008–2009, explored health consequences of migratory separation for remaining-behind adolescent children, comparing them with those whose parents remained at home. Participants were 205 high school students from the Philippines. It was found that adolescents with a parent abroad, particularly the mother, reported poorer physical health than those with both parents at home, while socioeconomic status did not have impact. The parent–abroad adolescents reported a high level of missing their parent(s) and felt emotionally lonelier than the parent-at-home group. Emotional loneliness and stress due to parental absence were associated with poorer health. Avoidant coping appeared to moderate the parental absence-health relationship. Paradoxically, it seems that, although many parents work abroad to improve the lot of their children, the latter suffer emotional stress and physical health detriments. While Lazarus and Folkman’s (1984) cognitive stress model is generally applicable for migratory separation, cultural aspects need attention, both in theoretical implementation and interpretation. Limitations and implications are further discussed.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 75 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 12 ()
    Pages: 2250-2257

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:75:y:2012:i:12:p:2250-2257

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    Related research

    Keywords: Philippines; Health; Adolescent; Health psychology; Family; Labour migration; Cognitive stress model; Separation reactions;

    References

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    1. John Bryant, 2005. "Children of International Migrants in Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines: A review of evidence and policies," Innocenti Working Papers inwopa05/32, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre.
    2. Lu, Yao, 2010. "Rural-urban migration and health: Evidence from longitudinal data in Indonesia," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 412-419, February.
    3. Shawn Kanaiaupuni & Katharine Donato, 1999. "Migradollars and mortality: The effects of migration on infant survival in Mexico," Demography, Springer, vol. 36(3), pages 339-353, August.
    4. Schmeer, Kammi, 2009. "Father absence due to migration and child illness in rural Mexico," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 69(8), pages 1281-1286, October.
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