Asian and Pacific Migration Journal

 

The Subjective Well-being of Children in Transnational and Non-migrant Households: Evidence from Thailand
Aree Jampaklay and Patama Vapattanawong

To date, research that includes children’s views on parental migration has been insufficient. Based on the children’s assessment of well-being, we use a case study of Thailand to ask whether children of overseas migrant parents are less or more resilient compared to children of non-migrant parents. We make use of data from the Child Health and Migrant Parents in South-East Asia (CHAMPSEA) Project, one of the few studies that provide space for children, both of migrant and non-migrant parents, to voice their views. Our sample includes 496 children aged 9 to 11 years old. The outcome variable captures children’s subjective well-being as an indicator of whether they are a resilient child. Our multivariate analysis controls for other potential contributing factors, including the children’s individual attributes, carer’s mental health, parents’ education, family functioning as reported by the children, and household economic status in order to investigate the effects of parental migration. Qualitative information from in-depth interviews with selected carers and group interviews with community leaders are also used to explain the results. Our findings highlight the importance of taking into account children’s own perceptions. Compared to children of non-migrant parents, those of migrant parents are more likely to give a positive assessment of their own well-being. The other contributing factors include whether the child sees their family as functioning well. In Thailand, international migration is predominantly undertaken by fathers while childcare remains the responsibility of mothers, and public attitudes towards overseas migration, especially paternal migration, is generally favorable. This may help explain the positive perception of children of migrants towards themselves.