The effect of labor migration and remittances on children's education among blacks in South Africa

Type Working Paper - California Center for Population Research
Title The effect of labor migration and remittances on children's education among blacks in South Africa
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2007
This paper studies the effect of remittances sent home by South African Black labor migrants
on children’s schooling. We use cross-sectional data from the 1993-1994 Integrated Household
Survey and panel data from 2002 and 2003 South African Labor Force Survey. We find that both
labor migration and the likelihood of sending remittances home are much more prevalent among
Blacks than among other racial groups, and thus restrict our study of the impact of migration and
remittances on children’s education to Blacks. Receipt of remittances substantially increases the
likelihood that children are in school, through three pathways: increased household educational
spending, reduced child labor, and mitigation of the negative effect of parental absence due
to out-migration. Also, remittances sharply differentiate labor migrant households. Children in
households without remittances are disadvantaged compared to recipient households, and in
some respect are even worse-off than their counterparts in nonmigrant households, primarily due
to the deleterious effect of parental out-migration with no economic compensation. Sensitivity
tests using fixed-effect and random-effect modeling show that the effect of labor migration and
remittances is robust to unobserved heterogeneity and relatively consistent across subsamples
and independent samples over time, although the negative effect of living in households with outmigrants
but no remittances is substantially by 2002-2003, due at least in part to relaxed migration
policies after the breakdown of apartheid. The paper also assesses the social consequences of
remittances. We find that remittances help reduce intra-familial gender inequalities as well as interfamilial
SES inequalities in schooling.

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