An analysis of the extent of migration and its impacts on the sending household in a rural area in South Africa.
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The aim of this study is to analyse the extent and nature of labour migration and its impacts on the sending households in a rural area in South Africa, namely Agincourt, Mpumalanga. This is achieved through a quantitative analysis of a cross-sectional dataset from the 2007 temporary migration module of the Agincourt Health and Demographic Surveillance System. Results indicate that most temporary migration in this area is related to the need to work elsewhere, i.e. labour migration, and that labour migrants are more likely to be men rather than women. Consistent with expectations, temporary labour migrants appear to maintain close ties with sending households, evidenced in three key features of migrants` behaviour, namely: method of communication with the household; pattern of return; and propensity to remit cash and goods to the household of origin. A number of the factors investigated here differ by the gender of the migrant, and whether children were left behind in the household by the migrant. The effect of labour migration on additional household composition changes, such as the co-migration of children, appears negligible in this sample, contrary to expectations. Interestingly, the study finds that a large percentage of migrants leave children behind in the sending households, and that more female migrants compared to male migrants leave behind at least one child in the household. These children tend to be cared for within the household by another female relative. These findings underscore the need for more inter-disciplinary and in-depth research on labour migration, yielding more refined results particularly on the impact of migration on the health and well-being of children left in the sending household.