Population Research and Policy Review

, Volume 37, Issue 6, pp 1079–1108 | Cite as

Does it Take a Village? Migration among Rural South African Youth

  • Tyler W. MyroniukEmail author
  • Michael J. White
  • Mark Gross
  • Rebecca Wang
  • Carren Ginsburg
  • Mark Collinson


In a rural African context, the saying, “it takes a village to raise a child,” suggests that community characteristics are substantially important in children’s lives as they transit to adulthood. Are these contextual factors also related to youth migration? Demographers are uncertain about how community characteristics improve our understanding of an individual’s propensity to migrate, beyond individual and household factors. In many low- and middle-income country settings, youth become migrants for the first time in their lives to provide access to resources that their families need. We employ discrete-time event history models from 2003 to 2011 Agincourt Health and socio-Demographic Surveillance System in rural South Africa to test whether markers of development in a village are associated with the likelihood of youth and young adults migrating, distinguishing between becoming temporary and permanent migrants during this critical life cycle phase. We find that village characteristics indeed differentially predict migration, but not nearly as substantially as might be expected.


Event history analysis Migration South Africa Youth 



We would especially like to thank Andy Foster, Margot Jackson, and David Lindstrom for their technical advice, in addition to Steve McGarvey, Leah VanWey, Zhenchao Qian, Taryn Dinkelman, and Jo Fisher for their constructive comments on earlier versions of this paper. This paper was presented at the 2016 Population Association of America annual meeting in Washington, DC. We would also like to thank Yashas Vaidya for consolidating Agincourt Health and socio-Demographic Surveillance System (Agincourt HDSS) data into a harmonized panel file used in this research. We are grateful for support of this project from the Providence/Boston Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) under NIH grant P30AI042853; the Eunice Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development for 1R01HD083374 (Brown University); NIH R24HD041020, P2C HD041020 (Brown University Population Studies and Training Center); and additional support for the maintenance of the Agincourt HDSS from Wits School of Public Health, Wellcome Trust (grants 058893/Z/99/A, 069683/Z/02/Z, 069683/Z/08/Z), Medical Research Council of South Africa, and Brown University’s Population Studies and Training Center. We gratefully acknowledge the South African Medical Research Council for funding Carren Ginsburg’s Career Development Award.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tyler W. Myroniuk
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michael J. White
    • 2
  • Mark Gross
    • 3
  • Rebecca Wang
    • 2
  • Carren Ginsburg
    • 4
    • 5
  • Mark Collinson
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyGeorge Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA
  2. 2.Department of Sociology, Population Studies and Training CenterBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA
  3. 3.Sociology and Criminology DepartmentCabrini UniversityRadnorUSA
  4. 4.MRC/Wits Rural Public Health and Health Transitions Research Unit, School of Public Health, Faculty of Health SciencesUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa
  5. 5.INDEPTH NetworkAccraGhana
  6. 6.DST/MRC South African Population Research Infrastructure Network (SAPRIN)JohannesburgSouth Africa

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