The Impact of Transnational Labor Migration on Mental Health of Left-behind Family: Care Drain and Care Chain Situation in Thailand

Benjamas Penboon
Aree Jampaklay, Mahidol University

This study examines the impact of transnational labor migration and factors associated with the mental health of left-behind children and the main carers in Thailand. The study also aims to explore the situation and impact of care drain and care chain. Secondary data of 997 households from the Child Health and Migrant Parents in South-East Asia (CHAMPSEA) project. Qualitative data were collected using in-depth interviews with 10 mother migrants in Hong Kong and 10 main carers in Thailand. Data were analyzed using binary logistic regression and content analysis. Findings indicate that the children of migrant parents are more likely to demonstrate conduct problems and hyperactivity than those in the non-migrant households. Factors which appear to impact a caregiver’s mental health include the physical health status of children, educational level of the carers, and household economic status. Findings from the qualitative data collection are suggestive of the care drain definition that implies two dimensions – monetary and instrumental cares. The mother migrants utilize various strategies for taking care of their children from distance. The care chain situation indicates that the main carers in the household of origin are the grandmother and most of them are willing to take responsibility of taking care of the migrants’ children. However, they also hope that the mother migrant will return soon. The results raise concerns on mental health impact on the children living separately from their parents and point to the needs for parents to continue to express their affection for their left-behind children.

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 Presented in Session 69. Multi-Sited Approaches of Migration