Internal migration in Chile and the communities left behind (2018-2021)
This project investigated empirically the material and psychosocial impacts of internal migration on the communities of origin. It adopted an interdisciplinary approach and a mixed-methods design to investigate the impact of emigration on the economic and psychosocial wellbeing of the family and the community of origin. The results of both quantitative and qualitative analysis show that origin families receive, on average, no significant material benefits from the emigration of a family member. In contrast, significant flows of reverse remittances from the origin family to the migrant are observed, both in money, and in kind, especially through provision of childcare. At community level, high net emigration rates are associated with significant worsening of several mental health outcomes of the sending community. In-depth interviews of parents with a migrant adult child allowed exploring their subjective evaluation of the multiple interactions of material, emotional, relational, social, and cultural aspects of their experience of migration of the family member. Results show that subjective wellbeing declines significantly, especially among mothers, but psychological wellbeing, driven by sense of purpose and accomplishment, improves. Parents’ narratives suggest that their main aspirations are related to upward social mobility for their children, through better education and employment opportunities, and that they see as part of their life purpose to contribute to this process to the best of their abilities, including by bearing the significant material and emotional costs of their children’s emigration to pursue better opportunities elsewhere. Interestingly, this narrative does not vary significantly between mothers and fathers, or by gender of the migrant child. In the context of Chile, where spatial inequality is high, migration is seen as an important strategy for pursuing upward social mobility. Overall, the project’s findings reinforce the importance of using a holistic analytical framework to account for the complexities of migration and show that focusing solely on its economic costs and benefits is not sufficient for understanding the impact of migration on sending communities.
PhD en Economía, Universidad de Sussex