The Role Of Risk In Child Mobility Decisions -- Empirical Evidence From Benin

Monday, July 14, 2014: 5:30 PM
Room: F203
Oral Presentation
Anne KIELLAND , Fafo AIS, Inst Applied International Studies, Oslo, Norway
Child mobility is still common throughout the West African region. This has been academically approached under the headings of child fostering, child migration, child labor and trafficking. Poverty is considered a main driver, alongside social networking and skills matching. Recent empirical work looks at the role of shocks to child mobility. Yet, it has been hypothesized that vulnerable families do not necessarily wait for a shock to occur, but might relocate children as an ex-ante strategy.

The proposed paper looks at the role of risk in the child mobility decision with data from a fertility based survey of 3000 rural households in Benin, a country known for high child mobility rates. The survey allows for registering children living away from parents, their schooling status and purpose of leaving. The 2012-survey covers three important areas: poverty, exposure to the massive floods of 2010 (shock), and the household head’s level of worry about not being able to provide for his family the next 12 months (risk).

The regressions show (controlling for social and demographic factors), that perceived risk correlates substantially and systematically with child mobility. Poverty and shock, on the other hand, do not correlate at a statistically significant level. This interestingly contrasts with the correlates of the schooling decision. While poverty, as previously established, correlates negatively with schooling, risk and shock do not. Focusing only on children who have left and are not in school, both risk and poverty correlate with the mobility outcome.

The results support the notion that child mobility forms part of an ex-ante risk management strategy for families at risk. At the policy level this supports cash-transfer type social policy interventions, supporting findings from South-Africa where even small - but predictable incomes - like pensions and child benefits - have produced positive effects on child outcomes.