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Types of Migration
Internal Migration
Global Labour Mobility
Child Migration
Skilled Migration
Forced Migration
Return Migration

Key Themes
Modelling Causes
and Consequences
Links between Migrations
Rural Poverty and Livelihoods
Social Protection
Gender and Generations
Health and Education

UK / international
Albania / Eastern Europe
Ghana / Africa
Egypt / the Middle East
Bangladesh and
South Asia




Project 3b(2):
Autonomous Child Migration in Ghana

This study explored the decision-making processes and aspirations involved in children’s migration from a sending village in the Upper East Region of Ghana, where long-term ethnographic research had previously been carried out on children’s work and education. The earlier research found that, contrary to the manner in which children’s migration frequently is presented in the policy literature, the return child migrants interviewed were, for the most part, positive about their experiences of migration. The aim of the study was to build on what was found then by broadening the scope of children considered to include children who were at the time living as migrants, and to explore the nature of the processes involved in migration.

Key Research Questions

Dot Why do children migrate, what negotiations are involved in the decision to migrate?
Dot What is the extent of children’s agency in the migration process?
Dot What social networks, if any, are utilised in children’s movement?
Dot What impact does children’s access to schooling, or the lack thereof, have on their decision to migrate (and vice versa)?
Dot What are the experiences and coping strategies of children who migrate, and what explanations are there for variations in children’s experiences?
Dot How much do children earn, and how much control do they have over this income?
Dot What is the impact of a child’s gender on the above?



Key Theme(s)
Gender and Generations
Rural Poverty and Livelihoods

Type(s) of Migration
Child Migration

Ghana / Africa


Ann Whitehead

Iman Hashim, (Sussex),

Key Activities


Following a workshop in March 2004, which set down the broad parameters for the research, fieldwork was undertaken and a total of seventy current (60) and return (10) child migrants were interviewed, along with twenty of the parents of child migrants.


Findings from the study, along with the findings of other DRC studies on child migrants, was presented at a DRC-organised panel on children who choose to migrate at the Oslo Childhoods 2005 conference
A detailed report of the study has been submitted (Children's Independent Migration from Northeastern to Central Ghana, http://www.migrationdrc.org/
publications/research_ reports.html)
In addition, Iman has produced two working papers on the migration of children entitled ‘Exploring the Linkages between Children’s Independent Migration and Education: Evidence from Ghana’ (WP-T12, available at http://www.migrationdrc.org/
) and ‘The Positives and Negatives of Children’s Migration: An Assessment of the Evidence From Ghana and the Debates’ (under review).
Iman also was a contributing author on an overview paper on the DRC’s research on migration of children, which is shortly due to be published as a working paper (‘Child Migration, Child Agency and Intergenerational Relations in Africa and South Asia’ by Ann Whitehead, Iman M Hashim and Vegard Iversen)

Follow-up work from the project, in the next phase, includes a research workshop, a policy workshop and a write-shop towards bringing out an edited volume on autonomous child migration


  © University of Sussex 2003 Text-Only
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With thanks to IOM and Claudia Natali for the photographs