Paternal migration and children’s educational attainment and work activity: the case of Mexico

Qian Song, Jennifer Glick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Most of the research evaluating the import of paternal migration for children’s outcomes has taken ‘left-behind children’ as a single group. Taking a life course perspective, this paper distinguishes fathers’ short-term and long-term migrations, as well as return migration, as they affect children’s productive activities. Using the Mexican Family Life Survey (2002–2009), we followed school-aged children from two-parent households in 2002 and observed their activities as they transitioned into adulthood from 2005 through 2009. We found that fathers’ short-term migration is negatively associated with children’s labor force participation, especially for 12–to 18-year-old boys, suggesting that paternal migration may interrupt adolescent boys’ labor market transition in the short-term. Fathers’ long-term migration and return migration does not significantly alter children’s activities. However, the negative role of fathers’ long-term absence and benefits brought by the paternal migration trip are important mechanisms for educational persistence and the labor force entrance of 12–to 18-year-old girls, highlighting the conditions under which certain mechanisms may work. This suggests that migration is a family process, with the outcomes lying in the interplay of the stages of migration, children’s life stages, and how gender is treated within cultural and familial contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)425-443
Number of pages19
JournalCommunity, Work and Family
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences


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