CHILD MIGRANTS WITH AND WITHOUT PARENTS: CENSUS-BASED ESTIMATES OF SCALEAND CHARACTERISTICS IN ARGENTINA, CHILE AND SOUTH AFRICA
Shahin YaqubProgramme Specialist <firstname.lastname@example.org>Keywords: migration statistics, children, census, Argentina, Chile, South Africa.
This paper analyses children’s internal and internationalmigration, using individual-level census data, in thethree middle-income countries of Argentina, Chile andSouth Africa. Statistical information on children’smigration is severely lacking. There has been littlequantitative description of scale or direction of movements. Much of it is based on small surveys, andtherefore not necessarily nationally representative.Child migrants are diverse by age, education,employment and other characteristics, but there is littleresearch to differentiate them.With a view to addressing some of these research gaps,the paper reports on middle-income countries (mostdata is on child migration in high-income destinationcountries); comparatively analyses internal andinternational migration (most research analyses one orthe other); distinguishes dependent and independentchild migrants (few migration statistics recognise thedistinction); and offers analysis across three countries(few child migration data are nationally representative,and fewer still are cross-national).The paper examines three issues: (1) types of migrationinvolving children of different ages (internal/ international); (2) adults with whom migrant childrenreside at destinations (family/ non-family); and (3)children’s schooling levels, work and housing atdestinations. Correlations between these three areanalysed, with the idea that where children migrate to,the people they live with and their characteristics atdestinations are related issues.The data that exists on children’s internal/internationalmigration, and their in/dependent statuses, are highlyscattered; and these four subgroups have not beenstudied comparatively. The paper compares the four interms of their relative magnitudes, age-structures and afew child indicators at destinations. Generallyinternational migration is harder and costlier, so it mightbe expected that international child migrants are olderand less dependent on parents/ adult guardians, thaninternal child migrants. But the specifics of this havenot been studied, and may be confounded by otherfactors, such as easier and cheaper internationalmigration across bordering provinces, or to ruraldestinations.
Structure of the Paper
Section 2 describes data sources and definitions. Insummary, children are defined as under 18 years old;migration is defined as a change in usual residencewithin five years preceding the census, across aprovincial or international boundary; and independentchildren are defined as not resident with an adult parentor adult sibling. Section 3 presents estimates of theoverall scale of child migrants in Argentina, Chile andSouth Africa, irrespective of with whom they live, andrelates population age structures to directions of movements. Section 4 presents estimates of independentand dependent child migration based on children’scoresidence with adults at destination, and relates this totheir directions of movement and characteristics atdestination. Section 5 concludes with implications forresearch, and the inclusion of children within globaldebates on migration in developing societies.
2. Data Sources and Definitions2.1 Description of countries selected
Argentina, Chile and South Africa are middle-incomecountries with diverse social-economic development.The fact that middle-income countries are migrantdestinations has received limited attention, particularlyin terms of child migration. Argentina and Chileprovide comparisons within the continent, and SouthAfrica comparisons outside the continent at a similaraverage income level.Selected social-economic indicators are shown in Table1. Chile is by far the poorest of the three in per capitaterms (by around 20 per cent), but income inequalityand poverty rates are higher in South Africa. Child andyouth indicators in South Africa are also the worst of the three countries. Although Argentina’s indicators arebetter, it still has a high rate of economic activityamongst young children (one-in-five) and high rates of inequality