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Migrant Social Capital and Education in Migrant-Sending Areas of Bangladesh: Complements or Substitutes?

Migrant Social Capital and Education in Migrant-Sending Areas of Bangladesh: Complements or Substitutes?

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Published by Randall Kuhn
An old paper that really needs to be spruced up and published.

This paper studies the role of migrant social capital on children’s education in Matlab, an area of rural Bangladesh with high rates of rural-urban and international out-migration, and high dependence on urban-rural and international financial transfers. A primary point of focus is the role of social capital, or origin-area connections to current destination-area residents, as complements or substitutes for investments in children’s education. Past research shows how investments in children’s human capital act as a substitute for retirement insurance in developing societies. In areas of high out-migration, however, high social costs and risks associated with migration may reduce the parents’ perceived marginal returns to educational investment. The current analysis combines household survey data with a series of demographic surveillance data, predicting education among current children in terms of past migration experience at the village level. We find that a history of male migration in the village increases the likelihood of parental investment in girls’ education, yet has no effect on investment in the education of boys, who are the group most likely to actually migrate. These effects persist in the presence of controls for household assets, which are likely to rise with the increased practice of migration by members of the household or village. Girls in high out-migration villages achieve parity with boys in terms of completing primary school, but remain significantly less likely to complete secondary school. Although migrant social capital encourages parents to allocate more of their household educational budget to girls’ schooling, household budgets, as determined by assets, still play a larger role in determining daughters’ schooling investments.
An old paper that really needs to be spruced up and published.

This paper studies the role of migrant social capital on children’s education in Matlab, an area of rural Bangladesh with high rates of rural-urban and international out-migration, and high dependence on urban-rural and international financial transfers. A primary point of focus is the role of social capital, or origin-area connections to current destination-area residents, as complements or substitutes for investments in children’s education. Past research shows how investments in children’s human capital act as a substitute for retirement insurance in developing societies. In areas of high out-migration, however, high social costs and risks associated with migration may reduce the parents’ perceived marginal returns to educational investment. The current analysis combines household survey data with a series of demographic surveillance data, predicting education among current children in terms of past migration experience at the village level. We find that a history of male migration in the village increases the likelihood of parental investment in girls’ education, yet has no effect on investment in the education of boys, who are the group most likely to actually migrate. These effects persist in the presence of controls for household assets, which are likely to rise with the increased practice of migration by members of the household or village. Girls in high out-migration villages achieve parity with boys in terms of completing primary school, but remain significantly less likely to complete secondary school. Although migrant social capital encourages parents to allocate more of their household educational budget to girls’ schooling, household budgets, as determined by assets, still play a larger role in determining daughters’ schooling investments.

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Published by: Randall Kuhn on Jan 05, 2011
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05/19/2015

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1
Migrant Social Capital and Education in Migrant-Sending Areas of Bangladesh: Complements or Substitutes?(Manuscript)
Randall S. KuhnUniversity of Colorado
 – 
Institute of Behavioral Science*484 UCBBoulder, CO 80309-0494
kuhnr@colorado.edu
Jane A. MenkenUniversity of Colorado
 – 
Institute of Behavioral Science / Department of SociologyBoulder, CO 80309-
 jane_menken@colorado.edu
 
2
Abstract
This paper studies the role of migrant social capital on children
s education in Matlab, anarea of rural Bangladesh with high rates of rural-urban and international out-migration,and high dependence on urban-rural and international financial transfers. A primary pointof focus is the role of social capital, or origin-area connections to current destination-arearesidents, as complements or substitutes for investments in children
s education. Pastresearch shows how investments in children
s human capital act as a substitute forretirement insurance in developing societies. In areas of high out-migration, however,high social costs and risks associated with migration may reduce the
 parents’ perceived
marginal returns to educational investment. The current analysis combines householdsurvey data with a series of demographic surveillance data, predicting education amongcurrent children in terms of past migration experience at the village level. We find that ahistory of male migration in the village increases the likelihood of parental investment in
 girls’ education
, yet has no effect on investment in the education of boys, who are thegroup most likely to actually migrate. These effects persist in the presence of controls forhousehold assets, which are likely to rise with the increased practice of migration bymembers of the household or village. Girls in high out-migration villages achieve paritywith boys in terms of completing primary school, but remain significantly less likely tocomplete secondary school. Although migrant social capital encourages parents toallocate more of their household ed
ucational budget to girls’ schooling, household budgets, as determined by assets, still play a larger role in determining daughters’
schooling investments.
 
I.
 
Introduction
Past research has demonstrated the role of investments in children’s human capital
as aform of retirement insurance in societies that have achieved rapid economic growth andhigh returns to human capital, yet have few formal social insurance mechanisms (Becker1991; Lillard and Willis 1997; Willis 1982). In rapid-growth settings such as Taiwan inthe post-War era, increasing human capital investment encouraged further economicproductivity growth, leading to a cycle of simultaneous growth in investment andproductivity (Lee et al. 1994). In the case of Taiwan, rapid growth also facilitated acomplete quality-quantity tradeoff in investment in children, with fertility declining toreplacement-level in a single generation, and a complete transition from a predominantlyrural society to an overwhelmingly urban one.For societies with less rapid economic growth such as Bangladesh, these tradeoffsare clearly not complete, and individuals must make difficult economic choices that allowto simultaneously pursue economic innovation while also minimizing risk. InBangladesh in the last generation, fertility has declined rapidly from 6.5 children perwoman to 3.5. Education levels have risen rapidly for both men and women, withwomen beginning to close the gap with men (Figure 1). Following the male educationdeficit associated with the 1971 Liberation War, the school cohorts of study in this paper(20-25 years olds) will likely represent some of the last cohorts to display prominentgender differences in education. Urbanization has also continued apace, with theproportion of population living in cities expanding from 5% in 1960 to 24% today. Noneof these transitions is complete, however, and extensive research suggests that all arelinked to one another. A body of evidence suggests that economic growth must add fuelto this process.

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