Decoupling Parental Absences from Remittances in Economic Migration: The Case of Educational Attainment in Guatemala

Jason Davis, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The influence of economic migration on left-behind children’s educational attainment is complicated by the countervailing and likely harmful effects of parental absences versus the beneficial effects of remittances. Most research has not successfully decomposed these aspects of economic migration on children’s human capital outcomes. We address this deficiency by employing a two-step instrumental variables methodology that decouples the effects of parental absences from remittances on student enrollment and grade-by-age progression in Guatemala. Results indicate that parental absences are negatively related to enrollment and grade-for-age progression. Counter to expectations, remittances are also negatively correlated with enrollment. However, remittances receipts appear to counter the harmful influence of parental absences on grade-for-age progression for children enrolled in school.

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Presented in Session 15: Education Issues in Developing Countries