This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

A New Twist on Migration and Health

There has long been the belief that migrants tend to be a bit healthier than than those who do not migrate. If that were the end of the story, then we would expect that the people left behind might simply be out of luck in terms of health. However, Greg Weeks has recently pointed out a paper just published suggesting that those who leave a country like Ecuador to find a better job elsewhere may wind up improving the health of those left behind because of the way in which their remittances are spent. Here I copy for you the posting from Two Weeks Notice:

Juan Ponce, Iliana OliviĆ©, and Mercedes Onofa, "The Role of International Remittances in Health Outcomes in Ecuador: Prevention and Response to Shocks." International Migration Review 45, 3 (Fall 2011): 727-745.
This article evaluates the impact of remittances on health outcomes in Ecuador using an instrumental-variables approach. Although we do not find significant impacts on long-term child health variables, we find that remittances do have an impact on health expenditures, and on some preventive issues such as de-worming and vaccination. In addition, we find significant effects of remittances on medicine expenditures when illness occurs. In this regard, remittances are used for both preventive and emergency situations. Interestingly, we also find a significant and positive effect of remittances on health knowledge.
There is a lot of debate about how remittances are used, and in particular whether they are used primarily for consumption versus starting new businesses or other productive strategies. This article's conclusion is heartening since it suggests that there are positive non-economic outcomes.

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