The University of California, Irvine Department of Education presents

"Rethinking Remittances and Schooling: The Significance of Parents' Legal Status and Gender for Children in Transnational Families "
with Leisy J. Abrego, President’s Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Sociology, University of California, Irvine
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
9:30 – 11:00 a.m.
Education 2024
The growing consensus among development scholars is that remittances – monies sent home by migrants – increase the accumulation of children’s human capital. This assumption is what drives parents in many developing countries to migrate in search of employment to better provide for children’s basic needs and education. Because unauthorized international travel is dangerous and costly, migrants often leave their children behind, creating transnational families. Once in the United States, with few opportunities for legalization, these families face lengthy separations. Do all children in transnational families benefit from remittances? And what determines their schooling experiences? This study finds that some families are thriving economically and investing in children’s schooling while others are only barely subsisting. Moreover, while some children learn to cope with their parents’ absence, others are emotionally consumed by their longing to be reunited, with negative consequences on their academic achievement. The evidence demonstrates that migrants’ legal status and gender powerfully shape how much children in these families benefit from the sacrifice of separation. Therefore, enthusiasm for the positive effects of remittances should be tempered by emotional costs and stratified experiences of migration and family separation.

For further information, please contact Kathy Buers,

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