The Influence of Conditional Cash Transfers on Migration: A Re-Examination from a Gendered Lens

Christina Hughes, University of Washington

Past research on the influence of conditional cash transfers (CCTs) on migration has focused on the household as a harmonious unit. Drawing on feminist critiques, this paper views both CCT programs and migration decision-making from a gendered lens. Lauded as innovative anti-poverty programs, CCTs actually rely on the informal work of women to manage other family members in order to fulfill program requirements. This paper contends that CCTs emphasize traditional gender roles for women as mothers and caretakers, which constrain them to the domestic sphere and limit their likelihood of migration. Using event history models and data from the Mexican Family Life Survey, the analysis finds evidence supporting the hypothesis that CCT participation disproportionately limits migration for women over men. The paper broadly argues that such anti-poverty programs are not monolithically positive and emphasizes the importance of studying micro-level events for better understanding macro-level trends in migration and development policy.

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 Presented in Session P1. Marriage, Unions, Families, and Households