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When parents migrate and children stay: Children’s wellbeing in transnational families—a view from African countries

Valentina Mazzucato 

Maastricht University, Netherlands 

Studies on the effects of parental migration on children who stay in the home country are primarily based on adult accounts. These studies indicate that parents and children suffer emotionally from the separation. Furthermore, most studies are based on data from Latin America or Asia. Yet when interviewing children in African countries a more variegated picture emerges. In the Transnational Child Raising Arrangements projects (TCRA and TCRAf-Eu, www.tcra.nl) we studied children’s emotional well-being through mixed methods and multi-sited research designs conducted in three African countries: Ghana, Angola, and Nigeria. What emerged is that transnational families can have very different characteristics, and it is these characteristics that determine whether children fare well or not, rather than simply being separated from their parents. This presentation will explain the living arrangements that African children live in whilst their parents migrate internationally, how the different transnational family characteristics impinge upon their wellbeing, and how contextual factors such as child fostering and social parenthood practices, as well as war and post-conflict settings help to explain the similarities and differences between the three countries and between our findings and those of previous studies in Latin America and Asia.

January 20, 2016