Population Research and Policy Review 21: 403–431, 2002.
© 2002 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
The effect of female migration on infant and child survival in
, GORDON F. DE JONG
& C. SHANNON
Center for International Development, Research Triangle Institute;
Institute, The Pennsylvania State University;
Population Research Institute, The
Pennsylvania State University
Abstract. This article uses data from the 1996 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey to
examine whether migration of women improves the survival chances of their children to age
ﬁve. We expand on prior research by testing not only the hypothesized positive effect of rural-
urban migration, but also the effects of other migration stream behaviours on child survival.
Results show that up to 10% of children die before age ﬁve and within-group differences in
mortality exist among urban and rural children depending on their mother’s migration status.
Only urban-urban migration was signiﬁcantly related to child survival, compared to rural
non-migrants, after controlling for other factors, although other streams of migration (rural-
urban, urban-rural, rural-rural) were positively related to child survival. Generally, migration
explains a small component of the variance in child survival. Several other factors, including
parents’ education, household size, household headship, mother’s age at birth, duration of
breastfeeding, and place of delivery have a signiﬁcant predictive power on child survival.
Keywords: Child health, demography, migration, mortality
In Uganda, migration has been a major explanation for the dramatic increase
in the number of urban residents over the last three decades. Past research
examining this trend in sub-Saharan Africa focused primarily on the eco-
nomic motives for rural-urban migration (Adepoju 1988; Bilsborrow 1993;
Hakim & Hamid 1982; Oberai 1987; Stark 1991; Zacharia & Conde 1981)
and on how such migration affects national economic development (Adepoju
1988; Cummings 1985; Elkan 1985; Kasarda & Crenshaw 1991; Rempel
1981; Todaro 1997). Amidst this increased urbanization, Uganda as most
other African nations remains largely rural and most migrations that take
place are from one rural area to another. To date, little work has looked at
the effect of migration on the health and survival of the most vulnerable
members of migrants’ families – infants and children. This study examines