Population Research and Policy Review

, Volume 21, Issue 5, pp 403–431

The effect of female migration on infant and child survival in Uganda

  • Robert Ssengonzi
  • Gordon F. De Jong
  • C. Shannon Stokes


This article uses data from the 1996 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey to examine whether migration of women improves the survival chances of their children to age five. We expand on prior research by testing not only the hypothesized positive effect of rural-urban migration, but also the effects of other migration stream behaviours on child survival. Results show that up to 10% of children die before age five and within-group differences in mortality exist among urban and rural children depending on their mother's migration status. Only urban-urban migration was significantly related to child survival, compared to rural non-migrants, after controlling for other factors, although other streams of migration (rural-urban, urban-rural, rural-rural) were positively related to child survival. Generally, migration explains a small component of the variance in child survival. Several other factors, including parents' education, household size, household headship, mother's age at birth, duration of breastfeeding, and place of delivery have a significant predictive power on child survival.

Child health demography migration mortality 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abu-Lughod, J. (1961), Migrant adjustment to city life: The Egyptian case. American Journal of Sociology 67: 22-32.Google Scholar
  2. Adepoju, A. (1988), Migration and urbanization: Issues and policies, pp. 123-138 in E. Van de Walle, M.D. Sala-Diakanda & P.O. Ohadike (eds.), The State of African Demography. Liege: International Union for the Scientific Study of Population.Google Scholar
  3. Agesa, J. & Agesa, R.U. (1999), Gender differences in the incidence of rural-urban migration: Evidence from Kenya, Journal of Development Studies 35(6): 36-58.Google Scholar
  4. Arthur, J.A. (1991), Interregional migration of labor in Ghana, West Africa: Determinants, consequences and policy intervention, Review of Black Political Economy 20(2): 89-103.Google Scholar
  5. Bach, R. (1982), Migration and fertility in Malaysia: A tale of two hypotheses, International Migration Review 15(3): 502-521.Google Scholar
  6. Bilsborrow, R.E. and United Nations (UN) Secretariat (1993), Internal female migration and development: An overview, pp. 1-17 in United Nations, Internal Migration of Women in Developing Countries, (ST/ESA/SER.R/127), New York.Google Scholar
  7. Brennan, E. (1994), Mega-city management and innovation strategies: Regional views, in R.J. Fuchs, E. Brennan, J. Lo & F. Chamie (eds.), Mega City Growth and the Future. Tokyo, New York, Paris: United Nations University.Google Scholar
  8. Brockerhoff, M. (1990), Rural-to-urban migration and child survival in Senegal, Demography 27(4): 601-616.Google Scholar
  9. Brockerhoff, M. (1995), Child survival in big cities: The disadvantage of migrants, Social Science and Medicine 40(10): 1371-1383.Google Scholar
  10. Brockerhoff, M. & Brennan, E. (1998), The poverty of cities in developing Regions, Population and Development Review 24(1): 75-114.Google Scholar
  11. Brockerhoff, M. & Eu, H. (1993), Demographic and socioeconomic determinants of female rural to urban migration in Sub-Saharan Africa, International Migration Review 27(3): 557-577.Google Scholar
  12. Brockerhoff, M. & Yang X. (1994), Impact of migration on fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa, Social Biology 41: 19-43.Google Scholar
  13. Byerlee, D. & Eicher C.K. (1972), Rural Employment, Migration and Economic Development, Theoretical Issues and Empirical Evidence from Africa, African Rural Employment Paper # 1, Michigan State Univ.Google Scholar
  14. Caldwell, J.C. (1969), African Rural-Urban Migration, The Movement to Ghana's Towns. Canberra: Australian National University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Casterline, J.B., Cooksey E.C. & Ismail, A.F.E. (1989), Household income and child survival in Egypt, Demography 26: 15-26.Google Scholar
  16. Cummings, R.J. (1985), Migration and national development: The Kenyan Example, pp. 148-169 in B. Lindsay (ed.), African Migration and National Development. University Park and London: The Pennsylvania State University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Dahl, G. & Hjort, A. (1976), Having Herds, Pastoral Herd Growth and Household Economy. Stockholm Studies in Social Anthropology, 2.Google Scholar
  18. Desai, S. (1992), Children at risk: The role of family structure in Latin America and West Africa, Population and Development Review 18(4): 689-717.Google Scholar
  19. Elkan, W. (1985), Is a proletariat emerging in Nairobi? pp. 368-380 in R.M. Prothero & M. Chapman (eds.), Circulation in Third World Countries. London, Boston, Melbourne, and Henley: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  20. Farah, A.A. & Preston, S. (1982), Child mortality differentials in Sudan, Population and Development Review (8), 365-383.Google Scholar
  21. Ferry, B. (1981), The Senegalese surveys, pp. 265-273 in H.J. Page & R. Lesthaeghe (eds.), Child-Spacing in Tropical Africa: Traditions and Change. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  22. Goldstein, S. & Goldstein, A. (1981), The impact of migration on fertility: An 'Own Children' analysis for Thailand, Population Studies 35: 265-284.Google Scholar
  23. Goldstein, S. (1973), Interrelations between migration and fertility in Thailand, Demography 10(2): 225-241Google Scholar
  24. Gugler, J. (1989), Women stay on the farm no more: Changing patterns of rural-urban migration in Sub-Saharan Africa, Journal of Modern African Studies 27(2): 347-352.Google Scholar
  25. Gugler, J. & Flanagan,W. (1978), Urbanization and Social Change in West Africa. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Gwan, E.A. (1976), Types, processes, and policy implications of various migrations in Western Cameroon, in The Dynamics of Migration: Internal Migration and Migration and Fertility. Occasional Monograph Series, Interdisciplinary Communications Programme, Smithsonian Institution, 5(1): 1-40.Google Scholar
  27. Hakim, M.S.A. & Hamid W.W. (1982), Some Aspects of Urbanization in Egypt, Occasional Paper Series, Vol. 15. Durham, UK: University of Durham, Center for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies.Google Scholar
  28. Heisel, D.F. (1971), Population in Sub-Saharan Africa, Patterns and Prospects. Paper Presented at the Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association, Denver, Colorado.Google Scholar
  29. Herrick, A.B. et al. (1969), Area Handbook for Uganda. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  30. Hobcraft, J.N., MacDonald, J.W. & Rutstein, S.O. (1984), Socio-economic factors in infant and child mortality. A cross-national comparison, Population Studies 38: 193-223.Google Scholar
  31. Kabera, J.B. (1985), Populating Uganda's Dry Lands, pp. 112-122 in J.I. Clarke, M. Khogali & L.A. Kosinski (eds.), Population and Development Projects in Africa. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Kasarda, J.D. & Crenshaw, E. (1991), Third world urbanization: Dimensions, theories, and determinants, Annual Review of Sociology 17: 467-501Google Scholar
  33. Lee B.S. & Farber, S.C. (1984), Fertility adaptation by rural-urban migrants in developing countries: The case of Korea, Population Studies 38(1): 141-155.Google Scholar
  34. Lloyd C.B. & Gage-Brandon, A. (1993), Women's role in maintaining households: Family welfare and sexual inequality in Ghana, Population Studies 47: 115-131.Google Scholar
  35. Mabogunje, A.L. (1972), Regional Mobility and Resource Development in West Africa, Montreal: McGill University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Majok, A.A. & Schwabe, C.W. (1996), Development Among Africa's Migratory Pastoralist. Westport, Connecticut: Bergin & Garvey.Google Scholar
  37. Massey, D. & Mullan, B.P. (1984), A demonstration of the effect of seasonal migration on fertility, Demography 21(4): 501-517.Google Scholar
  38. Millman, S. (1986), Trends in breastfeeding in a dozen developing countries, International Family Planning Perspectives 12: 91-95.Google Scholar
  39. Oberai, A.S. (1987), Migration, Urbanization and Development. Geneva, International Labor Organization.Google Scholar
  40. Omuta, G.E.D. & Onokerhoraye, A.G. (1986), Regional Development and Planning in Africa, The Benin Social Sciences Series for Africa, Benin City, Nigeria: Ilupeju Press, Nigeria.Google Scholar
  41. Rempel, H. (1981), Rural-Urban Migration and Urban Unemployment in Kenya. Laxenburg, Austria: International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.Google Scholar
  42. Ritchey, P.N. & Stokes, C.S. (1972), Residence background, migration, and fertility, Demography 9(2): 217-230.Google Scholar
  43. Rutenberg, N. & Diamond, I. (1993), Fertility in Botswana: The recent decline and future prospects, Demography 30(2): 143-157Google Scholar
  44. Sammani, S. (1989), Management problems of Greater Khartoum, in R.E. Stren & R.R. White (eds.), African Cities in Crisis. Boulder, Colorado: Westview.Google Scholar
  45. SAS Software (1999), Version 8, SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC USA.Google Scholar
  46. Silavwe, G.W. (1994), Effects of rural-urban migration on urban housing in Zambia, Ekistics: The Problems and Science of Human Settlements 61: 240-246.Google Scholar
  47. Song Lee, B. (1992), The influence of rural-urban migration on migrant's fertility behaviour in Cameroon, International Migration Review 26(4): 1416-1447.Google Scholar
  48. Stark, O. (1991), The Migration of Labor. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  49. Statistics Department (Uganda) and Macro International Inc., Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (1996), Calverton, MD: Statistics Dept., Uganda and Macro International Inc.Google Scholar
  50. Stren, R.E. (1989), The administration of urban services, in R.E. Stren & R.R. White (eds.), African Cities in Crisis. Boulder, Colorado: Westview.Google Scholar
  51. Tam, L. (1994), Rural-to-urban migration in Bolivia and Peru: Association with child mortality, breastfeeding cessation, maternal care and contraception, DHS Working Papers 8: 1-36.Google Scholar
  52. Todaro, M.P. (1971), Income expectations, rural-urban migration and employment in Africa, International Labor Review 104(5): 387-414.Google Scholar
  53. Todaro, M.P. (1997), Urbanization, unemployment and migration in Africa: Theory and Policy. Policy Research DivisionWorking Paper, No. 104, New York: Population Council.Google Scholar
  54. Zacharia, K.C. & Conde, J. (1981), Migration in West Africa, Demographic Aspects. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Ssengonzi
    • 1
  • Gordon F. De Jong
    • 2
  • C. Shannon Stokes
    • 3
  1. 1.Center for International DevelopmentResearch Triangle InstituteUSA
  2. 2.Population Research InstituteThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUSA
  3. 3.Population Research InstituteThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUSA

Personalised recommendations