Home >News >India >Why migrants’ kids lose out back home

Many daily wage labourers move to other states hundreds of kilometres away to find work. The money they send home improves the lives of their families to some extent. But one study finds their children’s education and behaviour may also take a negative turn. Girl children have it worse as they end up taking on more household responsibilities too.

In 2018, academics Prabir Das, Jay Saha, and Pradip Chouhan surveyed 200 families in the underdeveloped Malda region of West Bengal. Half of these families had a migrant working elsewhere, and the rest didn’t. Most migration here is temporary and seasonal—people, mostly men, leave when there is little farming work around and they return when work is available.

When the migrant father is not around for a large part of the year, kids are at the risk of becoming undisciplined and their educational performance deteriorates.

Over 300 children from these families were tested on their reading and writing skills, general awareness, and knowledge of English and maths. Results show children of migrant fathers scored less than those of non-migrant fathers in all categories except general awareness. The survey also finds that children of migrant fathers clash more with others, attend school less, curse more and smoke more too.

Girl children are especially affected when the father is away. The mother tends to take on more of the workload as there is no division of labour anymore. Because of this, many domestic chores such as cooking and doing the laundry get delegated down to girls. Being busy with all this means their studies suffer as a result.

The authors recognize the vulnerable situation children of absentee migrant fathers are in and suggest they be given special care to keep in check any impact on their education and social development.

Also read: “Effects of Labor Out-Migration on Socio-Economic Set-up at the Place of Origin: Evidence from Rural India"

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