Evolutionary Anthropology Society
Oral Presentation Session
Kristin Sznajder (Pennsylvania State University)
Tami Blumenfield (University of New Mexico)
Siobhan Mattison (University of New Mexico)
Katherine Wander (Binghamton University)
In the last two decades the labor migration of adult men to urban destinations in-country and abroad (Dubai, Riyadh, Singapore, Malaysia) has redefined family structures in rural Bangladesh, where there has been an increase in female-headed households alongside increasing wealth, education, and contacts with a globalizing world. Yet there is significant variation in patterns of labor migration, with some men returning home on weekends while others are gone for years at a time, only keeping in touch with their families via mobile phone. The consequences of these different patterns of migration can also be significant: In some families absent husbands and fathers send regular remittances and invest heavily in new houses, healthcare for their kin, and the education and marriages of their children, while in other cases out-migrating men desert their parents, spouses, and children causing financial hardship, social stigma, and psychosocial stress. Using mixed methods data from 2010 and 2018 including surveys, anthropometrics, and biomarkers, and building on previous work on the effects of male labor outmigration on the timing of marriage and first birth among daughters, this paper examines health outcomes across families with and without labor migrants, as well as by destination, occupation, and duration of stay among those with labor migrants in the family. We ask what patterns of migration are associated with the best and worst health outcomes, what the likely pathways are for such effects to develop, and whether different patterns of labor outmigration may be one factor contributing to increasing inequality in Bangladesh.