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Economic Influences on Child Migration Decisions: Evidence from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh


  • Edmonds, Eric V.

    () (Dartmouth College)

  • Salinger, Philip

    () (Dartmouth College)


Why do young children migrate without a parent? We consider the economic components of the answer to this question by examining the correlates of out-migration for children under 15 whose mother's reside in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, India. 1 million children appear to have migrated away from home in our data. On average 3 percent of living children 5-14 in our communities are away from home, but the fraction of out-migrant children ranges between 0 and 29 percent. We find that the data are consistent with a classical view of migration: children on average appear to migrate out of competitive, rural child labor markets for net financial gain. The costs of migration are important. Children are less likely to migrate from more remote locations. Children are less likely to migrate from locations where child wages are higher. Overall, patterns of child migration away from their mothers look similar to what other researchers have observed in adult populations in different social and economic contexts.

Suggested Citation

  • Edmonds, Eric V. & Salinger, Philip, 2007. "Economic Influences on Child Migration Decisions: Evidence from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh," IZA Discussion Papers 3174, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3174

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. McKenzie, David & Gibson, John & Stillman, Steven, 2006. "How important is selection ? Experimental versus non-experimental measures of the income gains from migration," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3906, The World Bank.
    2. Junichi Goto, 2006. "Latin Americans of the Japanese Origin (Nikkeijin) Working in Japan --- A survey," Discussion Paper Series 185, Research Institute for Economics & Business Administration, Kobe University.
    3. Douglas Massey & Audrey Singer, 1995. "New Estimates of Undocumented Mexican Migration and the Probability of Apprehension," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 32(2), pages 203-213, May.
    4. Tsuda, Takeyuki, 1999. "The Motivation to Migrate: The Ethnic and Sociocultural Constitution of the Japanese-Brazilian Return-Migration System," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 48(1), pages 1-31, October.
    5. Osili, Una Okonkwo, 2007. "Remittances and savings from international migration: Theory and evidence using a matched sample," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 446-465, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Eric V. Edmonds & Maheshwor Shrestha, 2013. "Independent child labor migrants," Chapters,in: International Handbook on the Economics of Migration, chapter 5, pages 98-120 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Kielland, Anne, 2016. "The Role of Risk Perception in Child Mobility Decisions in West Africa, Empirical Evidence From Benin," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 312-324.
    3. Eric Edmonds & Maheshwor Shrestha, 2009. "Children's Work and Independent Child Migration: A critical review," Papers inwopa586, Innocenti Working Papers.

    More about this item


    migration; child labor; India;

    JEL classification:

    • J82 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - Labor Force Composition
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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