Consequences of Internal and Cross-Border Migration of Adult Children for their Older Age Parents in Battambang Province, Cambodia: Grounding Experiences in Local Settings and Family Circumstances

Publication Abstract

Hak, Sochanny, Il Oeur, John McAndrew, and John E. Knodel. 2013. "Consequences of Internal and Cross-Border Migration of Adult Children for their Older Age Parents in Battambang Province, Cambodia: Grounding Experiences in Local Settings and Family Circumstances." Journal of Population and Social Studies, 21(2): S49-S73.

In the 1990s Cambodia's transition to an open market economy provided impetus to migration out of rural areas into cities, principally Phnom Penh, and across international borders, mainly Thailand. The rise of the garment industry, growth in tourism and construction, and further integration with regional and world markets spurred large-scale labor demand. Meanwhile several factors such as high population growth, low productivity in agriculture, successive crop failures, and lack of rural industry encouraged young adults to migrate out of their parents' homes in search of work. Our paper examines migration at the family level focusing on a comparison of effects of internal versus cross-border migration for rural older age parents who remain behind. The analysis is based on quantitative and qualitative data from a case study conducted in June and July 2010 in two communes of Battambang Province. The quantitative data come from a survey of 265 respondents aged 60 to 70 with information they provided about themselves and their 1,268 children. The survey findings are richly supplemented by qualitative data from 30 interviews conducted with a sub-sample of the elderly respondents. The research findings include analysis of exchanges of material support, contact between migrants and parents, and associations of internal and cross-border migration with the material and psychological well-being of parents. The modest contrasts associated with internal and cross-border migration for families in our study underscore that findings are very much conditioned by specific local settings and by specific family circumstances thus making unqualified generalizations difficult.

Country of focus: Cambodia.

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