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Mozambican migrant remittances keep sons in school, new study finds

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Remittances from Mozambican migrant labourers help their sons stay in school, but have little effect on the schooling of girls, a new study has found.

In a forthcoming article in the journal International Migration, sociologists Scott Yabiku and Victor Agadjanian report this and other results of a five year study of education outcomes among families of migrant labourers in Mozambique’s southern Gaza province.

Yabiku and Agadjanian spoke to 1,680 married women in Gaza, some of whom had husbands who migrated for work and some who did not, checking in on each of them three times between 2006 and 2011. In addition to gathering the women’s demographic information and their thoughts on their family’s financial situation, the researchers also tracked whether the women’s children were staying in school or dropping out.

Broadly, Yabiku and Agadjanian found that the children of fathers who chose to migrate were more likely to stay in school than those whose fathers did not. The longer a father worked abroad, the longer his children would most likely stay in school. Children in families where mothers believe that their husband’s migrant labour has significantly improved the family’s quality of life (what Yabiku and Agadjanian call “successful migration”) are even less likely to drop out than their peers with less successful migrant fathers. The researchers also found that fathers going abroad in the years before their children were born was correlated to more schooling continuity.

But when the researchers divided their results based on the sex of the children, they found that these benefits accrued only to boys. For girls in southern Mozambican families, there was no significant difference in likelihood of dropping out between those whose fathers migrated and those who didn’t.

Yabiku and Agadjanian are unsure about why girls’ schooling is unaffected by fathers’ decisions to migrate, even though girls who begin schooling are overall less likely to quit than boys. Their findings do, however, offer hints to policymakers as to the effects of remittances on future economic outcomes in southern Mozambique.

Labour migration has long played a key role in the economy of southern Mozambique. Where employment opportunities at home are scarce, many people choose to leave Mozambique temporarily and find work elsewhere, often in South African mines. The remittances they send home are a major source of income in the region – Mozambican migrant mine workers sent $55.2 million back to their families in Mozambique in 2015, according to the Central Bank of Mozambique.

© 2017, Zitamar Ltd. Reproduction and dissemination prohibited without written permission.

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