Bride kidnapping and gendered labor migration: evidence from Kyrgyzstan

Erin Trouth Hofmann, Guangqing Chi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Because the decision to migrate is a product of gendered negotiations within households, households formed through forced marriage may have different migration strategies than households formed through voluntary marriage. In Kyrgyzstan, we anticipate two possible effects of the traditional practice of bride kidnapping on migration. Households headed by a kidnap couple may be more cohesive and patriarchal, facilitating men’s labour migration and remittance-sending. Alternately, women may use migration to escape such households. We test these two hypotheses using a sample of 1,171 households in rural Kyrgyzstan. Kidnap households are more likely to include women migrants, compared to other households. Kidnap households are also more likely to be receiving remittances, even when controlling for migrant household members. However, traditional beliefs about kidnapping are negatively associated with men’s and women’s migration. While higher levels of remittance receipt among kidnap households resembles the unified, patriarchal households envisioned in the New Economics of Labour Migration, it also appears that women use labour migration as a means to escape patriarchal constraints. We demonstrate that forced marriage in Kyrgyzstan plays a larger social role than is often believed, and highlight a new pathway through which gendered power dynamics can shape household migration strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2493-2514
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Demography
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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