Child Mortality, Migration and Household Composition in Sub-Saharan Africa

Philippe Bocquier, Université catholique de Louvain
Mark Collinson, University of the Witwatersrand
Yacouba Compaoré, Université Catholique de Louvain
Carren Ginsburg, University of the Witwatersrand

The lives of a high proportion of children under-5 in Africa are affected by the rise in internal and international migration. Empirical studies show that changes in family structure, household wealth, and place of residence impact on healthcare, access to health services, health status, and the survival of both the children who migrate and those who are left behind. Most past research has not controlled for independent migration of children and other family members. The consequences of death or migration-related fostering on child health are of particular importance in Africa given the AIDS epidemic, violent conflicts, and poverty.

Our objective is to evaluate the nature and extent of the impacts of migration, wealth, and living arrangements on under-5 child mortality. We will analyse the extensive Health and Demographic Surveillance Sites (HDSS) data gathered by the INDEPTH Network a previously untapped source of data. To better understand child mortality we will control for the first time in longitudinal analyses for the impacts of children’s migration, parents’ and siblings’ migration, parents’ and siblings’ death, and household composition and socio-economic environment. We will then use the findings to test key hypotheses regarding the extent of the differential impact of migration and household shocks on child health.

Our first results show positive effects of child migration on their survival, at the opposite of migration effect on adult mortality. Mother’s and also siblings’ death, but not their migration, increase child death risks. A complex data management procedure has been tested with success on Ouagadougou HDSS (Burkina Faso) and Agincourt HDSS (South Africa) which will enable us to construct a household typology. It will be used to analyse data obtained in September 2017 on more than 20 other HDSS in SSA, covering at least 1 million children in 8 or more African countries.

Presented in Session 3: Ethnicity, Migration and Mortality