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
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
||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
||How do gender and age and other factors
impact on children°s agency in migration ?
||What could be a sensible conceptual framework
for analysing dimensions of intergenerational cooperation and
conflict in labour migration involving children ?
||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 ?
||How do research findings in India compare
with those for Ghana, Burkina Faso and Bangladesh?