The Hidden Costs of Mobility: Changing Patterns of Labor Migration and Health Implications for Left Behind Families in Indonesia.
This dissertation examines the mental health implications of labor migration for older parents and spouses left behind in Indonesia. It analyzes panel data from the 2007 and 2014 Indonesia Family Life Survey using individual fixed effects regressions to address endogeneity concerns. Paper 1 investigates how adult children’s outmigration affects older parents’ depression as care conditions at origin and migrant conditions at destination evolve. It finds that migration is associated with an increase in depression for parents, net of changes in economic status, physical health, and other covariates. It also finds important heterogeneities in impacts as parents who lack support via co-residence or daily interactions with children, and parents with children working in destinations with limited labor protections experience the most distress. Paper 2 extends these findings by exploring if health implications vary by the gender composition of migrant children. It finds that parents with a labor migrant daughter experience more depression than those with no labor migrant children, and those with only labor migrant sons. Further analysis shows that parental depression increases when a migrant daughter is unmarried, suggesting that daughter’s migration is particularly challenging for parents when it threatens her sexual reputation and marital prospects. Sensitivity checks show no parallel results for parents with unmarried migrant sons (and without unmarried migrant daughters), underscoring how gendered moral expectations shape parents’ distress. Paper 3 turns to the experiences of working-age spouses left behind, asking how marital separation due to migration influences different domains of mental health. It finds that while individuals with migrant spouses do not see an increase in depression as those who exit unions do, they experience a decline in domain satisfaction compared to those who live with their spouse. Left behind wives and left behind husbands report less satisfaction with family life and food status, respectively. Additionally, men with migrant wives increase cigarette consumption compared to men with co-resident wives, paralleling the substance use/abuse behaviors of men who exit unions. Collectively, these papers highlight the mental health costs of migration and family disruption for sending families, and identify how origin conditions, migrant destinations, and gender shape these burdens.
Aging; Gender; Health; Indonesia; Left Behind; Migration
Eloundou-Enyegue, Parfait M.; Lichter, Daniel T.; Garip, Filiz
Ph. D., Development Sociology
Doctor of Philosophy
Attribution 4.0 International
dissertation or thesis
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