The Impact of Migration on Children Left Behind in Developing Countries: Outcomes Analysis and Data Requirements

39 Pages Posted: 3 Sep 2014

See all articles by Andrea Rossi

Andrea Rossi

UNICEF ; Harvad Kennedy School

Date Written: March 2, 2009


In the research and reports on international migration, relatively little sustained academic scholarship addresses the impacts and implications of migration for youth and children whose families migrate or who themselves migrate to other developing countries. In the international debate on migration, scant attention has been given to children, and few statistics on migration provide data disaggregated by age. The dearth of general information on children left behind is one of the reasons for the lack of appropriate policy responses. There is no global estimate on the number of children who have at least one parent migrating, and the impact of migration and remittances on the children left behind is still notably absent in the economic literature.

Policy makers and researchers have focused their attention on migration flowing from developing to industrialized countries (also known as South-North migration), giving almost no attention to flows between developing countries, or the so-called South-South migration. Looking at South-South child migration (the migration of children and youth among developing countries) presents two main difficulties: first, we know little about the mobility of children in general, and secondly, we have very little information on South-South migration.

The paper assesses the state of knowledge of existing academic research and empirical evidence on the impact of migration on youth and children in developing countries. It develops a framework matrix for identifying relevant research topics and assesses the status of currently available data. In addressing the impact of migration on children, this paper also examines how migration affects the survival, well-being, and development of children left behind, of forced child migrants, and of children migrating with their parents or migrating alone.

Keywords: migration, children, development, impact, child migration

JEL Classification: F22,J61, O15, R23, R20, F20, J13, O10

Suggested Citation

Rossi, Andrea, The Impact of Migration on Children Left Behind in Developing Countries: Outcomes Analysis and Data Requirements (March 2, 2009). Available at SSRN: or

Andrea Rossi (Contact Author)

UNICEF ( email )

UNICEF Regional Office for East Asia and Pacific

Harvad Kennedy School ( email )

Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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