Contrasting Migration Effects with Remittance Effects on Child Growth Outcomes in Nicaragua

Jason Davis, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Counter to expectations, Nicaragua’s civil conflict and subsequent Sandinista revolution in the 1960s-1980s corresponded with vast declines in child malnutrition. However, child malnutrition worsened in the 1990s. This investigation quantifies associations among Nicaraguan fathers’ and mothers’ domestic and international migration, remittances and left-behind child growth shortly after this time period. Based on 2001 national-level data, preliminary findings include decreased stunting and underweight conditions in children residing in households receiving higher remittance amounts. In contrast, no significant associations were found between child stunting or being underweight and parental absences due to domestic or international migration. While the vast majority of Central American international migrants travel northward to the US, most Nicaraguans migrate southward to Costa Rica. The ease and speed with which Nicaraguan migrants can integrate themselves into Costa Rica’s economy and begin to send money may largely explain the non-harmful impact of parental absences in left-behind children’s growth outcomes there.

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 Presented in Session P6. Migration and Urbanization/Population, Development, and the Environment