ISSN 1753-0849

Childhoods Today Online JournalChildhoods Today

An online journal for childhood studies


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Volume 2 Issue 1 - June 24, 2008

Children’s migration for work in Bangladesh: The extra- and intra-household factors that shape ‘choice’ and ‘decision-making’

Karin Heissler

This article presents findings from fieldwork carried out for my D.Phil thesis on ‘choice’ in children’s independent and internal migration for work in Bangladesh. On-going social and economic change, including expansions in education, increasing landlessness, and a ‘new’ tradition of dowry pressurize households in ways that impact on children’s migration for work. Household vulnerability, social position and class are important factors that shape –at the community level – which households have children who are more likely to migrate for work. However, intra-household factors and processes are central to understanding which children within households choose to migrate for work. The domestic cycle and demographic make-up of households influence whether and which children migrate for work. This process is gendered and aged. Despite having very narrow scope to exercise individual agency and power, child migrants do have ways and means of bending and manipulating the structures of gender, generation and class to serve their needs and/or aspirations.