More than 25 million international migrants today, including 13 million children, have fled their country of origin because of conflict, generalized violence, a fear of persecution, or other severe disturbances to public order. The conditions under which these migrants in need of international protection (MNP) depart their country of origin?under duress and with little anticipation?and the conditions with which they experience life abroad? under a high degree of uncertainty, often for prolonged periods of time?may affect their incorporation, family dynamics, and health and wellbeing once abroad. Despite this possibility, little is known about the pathways by which displacement affects MNP health outcomes. Focusing on MNP in Costa Rica, a country that has experienced a six-fold increase in the number of asylum-seekers over the last five years and that boasts a well-established program for receiving and integrating MNP, the proposed study will provide one of the first investigations into how the events precipitating displacement and the incorporative experiences following it shape MNP family life, and in turn, women and children's wellbeing.
The specific aims of this study are that the PI will (1) gain extensive training on international survey data collection, migration, and human development; which will allow her to (2) adapt existing survey methods to collect high-quality panel data among MNP; and to (3) assess how pre- and post-flight experiences shape MNP family dynamics, and in turn, women and children's wellbeing. To achieve these aims, this award will equip Dr. Abigail Weitzman, a sociologist and family demographer at the University of Texas at Austin, with training and mentorship that extend her areas of expertise into three new domains: international survey data collection, migration studies, and developmental science. Combined with her current expertise in quantitative data analysis, family violence, and reproductive health, the proficiencies and research experiences she gains through this award will allow her to expand her interdisciplinary areas of expertise to produce a program of innovative, high-impact research on the determinants of MNP health and wellbeing. Results will provide new insights into the forces shaping family life following displacement and the familial pathways by which pre- and post-flight experiences affect the wellbeing of internationally displaced MNP women and children in the Americas. Training and insights gleaned from this project will lead to the development of a large-scale R01 study extending this line of research and will further aid in the development of policies that promote family cohesion, stability, and the health and wellbeing of internationally displaced migrant populations.

Public Health Relevance

The proposed research will examine how displaced migrant families in need of international protection adapt to pre-flight traumas and adversities and post-flight incorporation (or lack thereof) and the extent to which evolving family dynamics explain and/or condition the effects of these experiences on women and children's wellbeing. The findings promise to advance research and theory on international displacement by generating pilot data for an R01 project, adapting methods to track and describe the social and familial circumstances of internationally displaced populations, and examining relationships between pre- and post- flight experiences, family dynamics, and wellbeing. Study findings will illuminate crucial points of intervention for policymakers, public health officials, and humanitarian aid practitioners aiming to better promote the health and wellbeing of internationally displaced women and children.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Scientist Development Award - Research & Training (K01)
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National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Initial Review Group (CHHD)
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Bures, Regina M
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University of Texas Austin
Social Sciences
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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