Patterned remittances enhance women's health-related autonomy

Sharon H. Green, Charlotte Wang, Swethaa S. Ballakrishnen, Hannah Brückner, Peter Bearman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The consequences for women “left behind” by virtue of temporary male migration are known to be mixed. On one hand, concomitant changes in fertility, female labor force participation, and social norms are often associated with increased independence for women. On the other hand, women left behind can be vulnerable to increased dependency on members of their husbands’ family, or face limited access to social institutions. These shifts in women's capacity for decision-making can have important implications for their health and well-being. Focusing on the state of Kerala in southern India, we examine the conditions under which the remittances that migrants send home have an impact on the health of women left behind. Specifically, we assess the extent to which the timing of remittance sending can support women's autonomy, and hence improve their autonomous healthcare decision-making and mobility to health facilities. We use evidence from migrant households in Kerala, a region deeply engrained in the world labor migration system for over five decades. Analysis is conducted with representative household survey data from the 2016 wave of the Kerala Migration Study (KMS), and paired with in-depth qualitative interviews with women in Kerala whose husbands and other family members have migrated to the Gulf. We show that the positive effect of remittances on women's autonomy manifests primarily through the timing of remittance receipt, not the amount of money remitted. Those who receive regular remittances experience more gains in autonomy, as compared to those receiving remittances at irregular intervals, net of amount remitted. This finding challenges the usual emphasis on remittance volume as the driving factor of social and behavioral change in sending communities. Analytical efforts should be refocused on the social-interactional component of remittance sending, and how these interactions can impact women's health and autonomy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100370
JournalSSM - Population Health
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

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Women's Health
autonomy
Economics
health
Emigration and Immigration
Spouses
Decision Making
husband
migrant
migration
decision making
female labor force
Health Facilities
labor force participation
labor migration
social institution
Social Norms
household survey
Fertility
qualitative interview

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Cite this

Patterned remittances enhance women's health-related autonomy. / Green, Sharon H.; Wang, Charlotte; Ballakrishnen, Swethaa S.; Brückner, Hannah; Bearman, Peter.

In: SSM - Population Health, 01.01.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Green, Sharon H. ; Wang, Charlotte ; Ballakrishnen, Swethaa S. ; Brückner, Hannah ; Bearman, Peter. / Patterned remittances enhance women's health-related autonomy. In: SSM - Population Health. 2019.
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