The impact of international migration on the labour market behaviour of women left-behind: evidence from Senegal

Cora Mezger, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)
Sorana Toma, University of Oxford

This paper examines the impact of male international migration on the labour market behaviour of women left-behind in Senegal. While previous studies rely largely on cross-sectional data collected only in origin countries, this analysis takes advantage of a new longitudinal and multi-sited dataset on international migration. This allows using more appropriate methods for examining causal mechanisms and avoiding selection biases that were inherent in previous analyses. Results from a random effects logistic panel regression do not support previous findings of a positive effect of husbands’ migration on women’s labour market participation. Instead, we find evidence of lower activity rates for spouses of migrants. The finding seems mostly driven by women whose union is transnational from the start (i.e. who marry someone who is already a migrant) and who have significantly less chances to be working than their counterparts whose husbands are in Senegal. Future steps include extending the analysis to the Congolese case where preliminary results reveal different dynamics between men’s migration and women’s economic participation. The comparison, enabled by the multi-country design of the MAFE data, allows examining the role of gender norms in the shaping of these dynamics.

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Presented in Session 41: Work-family dynamics among immigrant populations