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The Cost of (Im)mobility: Children Left behind and Children who Migrate with a Parent

Author(s): B. S. A. Yeoh T. Lam

This paper focuses on the impact of migration on children left behind and children who migrate with one parent. The article starts with the definition of the child and several age criteria used in different countries to define the borders of childhood. In terms of children left behind, it is seen that the migrant's profile is complex and children left behind may be cared for by varying groups of people: mothers, fathers, grandparents, other extended family members and even non-relatives. Within this context, the article demonstrates importance of factors that directly influence the lives of children left behind, such as forms of communication, level of remittances, health and wellbeing, education, social behaviour, relationships and socialisation of children and reorganisation of gender and familial roles.  The paper concludes with examples of policy practice in relation to children left behind and recommendations for further research which, for example,  includes a need for more detailed systematic studies on the various ‘high-risk' cities and countries, (re)addressing policy issues at different scales: individual, household, community, regions and country and taking into account the gender of the migrating parent, as it asserts that children who are left behind by their mothers tend to suffer more emotionally, physically and in terms of education.

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