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Independent Child Migrants in Developing Countries: Unexplored links in migration and development

  • Shahin Yaqub
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    This paper focuses on independent migrant children, defined as below 18 years old, who choose to move from home and live at destinations without a parent or adult guardian. It summarises quantitative and qualitative research, and uses this to reflect on research agendas and global debates towards linking migration and development. The paper surveys historical evidence on linkages between children’s migration and societal development in earlier periods of modernisation, and identifies parallels to contemporary developing countries. The contemporary situation in developing countries is described in terms of: (1) numerical scale; (2) individual and family characteristics of the children involved; (3) decision-makers and decision-making processes in children’s movements; (4) why it happens, including from children’s viewpoints; (5) modes of movements; and (6) situations of children at destinations. The paper considers the extent to which children may demand migration opportunities, and how this demand may be met partly with forms of movement specific to children. Research strategies are discussed to provide a bridge to development issues, including conceptualization of children’s independent movements, children’s labour migration, migration statistics and selection of who migrates. A final section draws on the review to reflect on global debates in child development and societal development.

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    Paper provided by Innocenti Working Papers in its series Papers with number inwopa09/62.

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    Length: 91
    Date of creation: 2009
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:ucf:inwopa:inwopa09/62
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    Order Information: Web: http://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/

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    1. Beegle, Kathleen & Dehejia, Rajeev H. & Gatti, Roberta, 2006. "Child labor and agricultural shocks," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 80-96, October.
    2. Harris, John R & Todaro, Michael P, 1970. "Migration, Unemployment & Development: A Two-Sector Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(1), pages 126-42, March.
    3. Naila Kabeer, 2000. "Inter-generational contracts, demographic transitions and the 'quantity-quality' tradeoff: parents, children and investing in the future," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(4), pages 463-482.
    4. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Stark, Oded, 1989. "Consumption Smoothing, Migration, and Marriage: Evidence from Rural India," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(4), pages 905-26, August.
    5. Kathleen Ford & Victoria Hosegood, 2005. "Aids mortality and the mobility of children in Kwazulu Natal, South Africa," Demography, Springer, vol. 42(4), pages 757-768, November.
    6. Shahin Yaqub, 2002. "'Poor children grow into poor adults': harmful mechanisms or over-deterministic theory?," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(8), pages 1081-1093.
    7. Farley Grubb, 2003. "Babes in Bondage Parental Selling of Children to Finance Family Migration: The Case of German Migration to North America, 1720-1820," Working Papers 03-04, University of Delaware, Department of Economics.
    8. Evert van Imhoff & Gijs Beets, 2004. "Education at home: the age-specific pattern of migration between the Netherlands and the former Dutch East Indies around 1930," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 11(12), pages 335-356, December.
    9. Timothy J. Halliday, 2007. "Migration, Risk and the Intra-Household Allocation of Labor in El Salvador," Working Papers 200701, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics.
    10. T. Paul Schultz, 2001. "The Fertility Transition: Economic Explanations," Working Papers 833, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
    11. Alessandro Conticini, 2006. "Escaping Violence, Seeking Freedom: Why Children In Bangladesh Migrate To The Street," Economics Series Working Papers GPRG-WPS-047, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
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