This research note aims to understand the impact of parental migration on the children who stay behind by examining the issue of smoking. It asks whether tobacco use and exposure are higher among children in migrant households compared with those in non-migrant households in Java, Indonesia. Data were collected in 2008 in two provinces, West Java and East Java, as part of the Child Health and Migrant Parents in South-East Asia (CHAMPSEA) Project. The analytical sample used here relates to children aged 9, 10 and 11 living in both non-migrant and transnational households (N=451).
The findings show that the incidence of ever having smoked among these primary school-aged children is relatively low at less than 10 percent, but that boys are much more likely to have used tobacco than girls. Findings from multivariate logistic models predicting smoking behavior show no difference between the children of migrants and non-migrants; nor does household wealth appear to influence whether or not a child has tried tobacco. Gender, child stunting (low height-for-age), carer’s education, family functioning and tobacco use by friends are the four main factors found to be significantly associated with child smoking.