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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 3c
Autonomous and Other Child Migration in South India

This project builds on existing research, which has shown child labour migration from rural Karnataka to be quite considerable. Such migration includes the autonomous movement of boys aged under 15 who can easily find a job in the expanding small food outlet sector in Bangalore, as well as æhousehold-controlledī migration of girls who work as domestic servants. This existing research also found that some autonomous child migration occurs out of situations of domestic conflict, such that the migrants do not use kin or family networks to make their journeys or to find work. Instead, boys use their own connections, normally senior migrants from their native village, to arrange a job, or link up with friends to travel as a group. In this sense, child migration is not simply a response to income opportunities, but reflects a much more complex set of issues that involves friendships and aspirations, the process of growing up, and avoiding domestic conflict. Moreover, boys of higher caste background were found to be more likely to engage in autonomous migration.

Among the project objectives is to interview boy and girl migrants and their guardians and in some cases their employers, to deepen understandings of children°s experiences of migration, their motives to migrate, remittance behaviour, the child migrants° relationships to their natal households and their welfare at destination. Another aim will be to study the content of the implicit labour contracts of different categories of child labour migrants, career trajectories and possible caste and other bars. The project will also seek to enlarge the understanding of the dynamics of intergenerational relations in child migrant households by identifying different dimensions of cooperation and conflict between parents and children. The research will also seek to develop a better understanding of agency amongst child migrants.

Key Research Questions

Dot How do children decide to move to work, what types of social networks do they rely on, and what work and destination conditions do they encounter ? What are the contrasts between the migration of boys and girls and younger and older children in these respects ? Apart from wages, what other benefits does the native household gain from child labour migration ? How do these benefits vary with migrant characteristics and type of employment ? How does individual characteristics such as caste and gender impact on urban employment and career opportunities ?
Dot How do gender and age and other factors impact on children°s agency in migration ?
Dot What could be a sensible conceptual framework for analysing dimensions of intergenerational cooperation and conflict in labour migration involving children ?
Dot What are the implications of migration on child welfare and how do these welfare effects vary with child characteristics, type of migration and type of employment ? What is the incidence of return migration across different categories of migrants ?
Dot How do research findings in India compare with those for Ghana, Burkina Faso and Bangladesh?

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

Type(s) of Migration
Child Migration

Bangladesh / South Asia


Ann Whitehead

Vegard Iversen (UEA)

Key Activities


Methodological workshop on child migration.

2. Fieldwork in Dakshin Kannada District, Mandya District and Bangalore, to include survey work with child migrants and their guardians.
3. Fieldwork preparation and management.
4. Data analysis and report/ paper preparation.

Key Outputs

Presentation at workshop on intergenerational distribution of costs and benefits of migration in Accra

Policy briefings
Individual and joint publications


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With thanks to IOM and Claudia Natali for the photographs