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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(3):
Autonomous Child Migration in Bangladesh

This case study has sought to understand autonomous child migration and related family dynamics through interviews with child migrants working in the informal sector in Dhaka, and family members of these migrants in selected rural areas of origin. In contrast to many policy approaches to child migrants, the research finds considerable evidence of children having actual control over their lifeworlds. Similarly, while existing literature on child labour tends to single out economic factors as the principal determinant of child labour, there exist other dynamics that are often equally critical, which induce children to join the labour market from an early age.

Key Research Questions

Dot What factors prompt the migration of children?
Dot What is the profile of children who migrate?
Dot Who is involved in making decisions about children’s migration?
Dot How do children cope while away from home? Where do they live? How do they sustain themselves?
Dot What kinds of labour market and other vulnerabilities do they face?
Dot What is the impact of the migration experience on the children themselves?
Dot What kinds of policy responses have child migration evoked, if any? What needs to be done?



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

Type(s) of Migration
Child Migration

Bangladesh / South Asia


Ann Whitehead

Sumaiya Khair (RMMRU)

Key Activities


Following a review of existing literature on the subject, primary research was carried out in Dhaka, a major urban centre attracting child migrants, who were contacted at bus, launch and train terminals, in places of their work and in their residences in the slums. Using a combination of formal and informal techniques, iInterviews were conducted with 105 children who had migrated from their homes by themselves, and with 50 parents whose children had migrated independently of their immediate families. Fifteen further in-depth case studies of child migrants were also undertaken.


A report on the study has been completed
Findings from this study were also presented in a paper in the DRC-organised panel on children who choose to migrate at the Oslo Childhoods 2005 conference. Entitled ‘Voluntary Autonomous Child Migration: Perspectives from Bangladesh’ this is due to be published as a Migration DRC Working Paper
The research findings were presented to an audience of key policy making organisations and academics in Dhaka in September 2005
Follow-up work in the next phase will include participation in a research workshop and a chapter in the edited volume on autonomous child migration


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With thanks to IOM and Claudia Natali for the photographs