Parent Migration and Education Outcomes of Children Left Behind in El Salvador

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Oct 2020
Nearly one quarter of El Salvador's population resides abroad as a result of historically high levels of violence, which have led to increasing family disintegration and many children being left behind in country of origin. Parental migration can have both positive and negative consequences on children left behind, where there are opposite forces taking place simultaneously. Remittances sent by migrant parents can increase financial resources previously unavailable which can be invested toward children's health and education. However, parental absence due to migration represents lower supervision, guidance and emotional support, which can have negative effects on children's developmental outcomes and increase their vulnerability to exploitation and recruitment into criminal activities. This study analyzes the impact of parent international migration on educational outcomes of children left behind. I find that children with migrant parents exhibit a lower probability of attending school, where the effect is stronger for older boys between 13 to 17 years of age. Some of the mechanisms explaining lower school attendance among children with migrant parents include a higher likelihood of working and a higher intention of future migration. Although remittances play an important role in decreasing financial hardship in Salvadoran households, they do not fully compensate for the adverse consequences of parental absence due to migration.