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Working Paper No. 08-02

Gender, Educational Attainment, and the Impact of Parental Migration on Children Left Behind
Francisca Antman
June 2007 (updated June 2008, February 2010)


Estimation of the causal effect of parental migration on child education is complicated by the likelihood that factors influencing parental migration also affect child educational attainment. This paper exploits variation in siblings’ ages at the time of parental migration to get around this endogeneity problem, arguing that parental migration after a child is 20 should have no direct effect on a child’s educational attainment. The results point to a positive effect of paternal migration on education, but the results are gender-specific, suggesting that pushing a father’s U.S. migration earlier in his daughter’s life can lead to an increase in her educational attainment of up to 1 year relative to delaying migration until after she has turned 20. In contrast, paternal domestic migration has no significant effect on educational investments, suggesting that father absence does not play a major role in determining children’s educational outcomes. Instead, these results suggest that the marginal dollars from remittances relax the household budget constraint and enable families to invest in girls’education. They are also consistent with the findings from the literature on intrahousehold allocations where an increase in female bargaining power, coinciding with a simultaneous increase in household resources, results in better outcomes for girls and not boys.

JEL classification: O15; J12; J13; J16; J24; F22
Keywords: migration, father absence, education, gender