Volume 30 - Article 39 | Pages 1129–1156  

Household ecology and out-migration among ethnic Karen along the Thai-Myanmar border

By Daniel M. Parker, James W. Wood, Shinsuke Tomita, Sharon DeWitte, Julia Jennings, Liwang Cui


Background: Local migration in developing-world settings, particularly among rural populations, is an important yet understudied demographic process. Research on migration in such populations can help us test and inform anthropological and demographic theory. Furthermore, it can lead to a better understanding of modern population distributions and epidemiologic landscapes.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate the potential relationships between household- and individual-level factors on out-migration among Karen villagers along the Thai-Myanmar border.

Methods: We used a random effects hazard model to investigate the relationship of household consumer-producer (C/P) ratios, the number of household members, and an individual's sex on the odds of outmigration. We then used simulations in order to test the sensitivity of our model to our C/P ratio weighting scheme.

Results: We found that the number of household members is predictive of increased out-migration. Household C/P ratios were positively associated with out-migration in children but negatively associated with out-migration in working age adults. Finally, adult males were much more likely to move out of the household than were adult females.

Conclusions: While household-level factors are important with regard to out-migration, the relationships between such household-level factors and out-migration are complex and vary by the individual's age and sex. Our study offers two novel concepts to household demography and migration studies. First, this study offers a new approach to evaluating weighting schemes for C/P ratios. Second, we show that household level factors are important at units of time (two-week intervals) that are not normally studied by demographers.

Author's Affiliation

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