Migration and economic activity among origin households: the role of female household headship

International migration is an important source of employment and remittances for households in the developing world. In a male-dominated international migration system, females are more likely to head households after the exit of a migrant. In this study, we decompose impacts of international migration into effects attributable to a change in the gender of the household head and effects attributable to other mechanisms. We use an unbalanced panel dataset collected over fourteen years from 2000-2014 in Bangladesh, where international migrants are almost all men. Combining instrumental variable estimation with causal mediation methods, we find that sending an international migrant reduces household participation in crop farming, livestock production, and non-farm businesses at the intensive and extensive margins. However, the average impacts of changes in the gender of the household head due to migration show an opposite effect. We find similar results for input expenditure, capital stock, and time allocation in farming, livestock, and business activities as well. Results show that migration increases household expenditures in food and non-food items, but the newly formed female-headed households induced through migration spend less on food and non-food items and invest more on productive activities. Acknowledgement : We are grateful to BRAC for providing us the data set and to Mr. Mahafuzur Rahman for his support during the study. We would also like to thank Marc Bellemere, Spiro Stefanou, Pilar Useche, Hector Sandoval, Charles Moss, Dianne Cothran, and seminar participants at the AAEA Annual Meeting in Chicago and the University of Florida for their comments and suggestions. The standard caveats apply.

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JEL Codes:
E22; F22; O12

 Record created 2018-10-02, last modified 2020-10-28

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