In response to deficiencies in economic, political, and/or social standing, many parents from the developing world use migration as a means to improve their condition and the future prospects of their children. The monetary remittances that are generated through economic migration are a major mechanism for alleviating chronic poverty in these settings. However, the benefits derived by remittances are often diminishing ed by negative impacts attributable to parental absences. Migration by its very nature places heavy burdens on left-behind family members, particularly young children that can cause permanent harm related to under - nutrition rather than the improved future that their parents envisioned. Under nutrition suffered in utero and during infancy can lead to diminished cognitive ability and physical stature, reduced economic productivity, and higher risk of non-communicable disease in adulthood. I am seeking a Pathway to Independence Award to improve my knowledge of maternal and child health and development in lesser developed world settings, bolster my skills in econometric research methods, and expand my understanding of migration outside of the Americas. The training portion of this project includes formal coursework, directed readings, attendance at scholarly seminars, and mentored career building activities that will solidify my skills in grant writing, navigating the academic job market, publishing, and presenting at conferences and colloquia. I will use these improved skills and knowledge to leverage my in situ migration research expertise in Central America to complete two of three specific aims for a Nicaraguan context: 1) to quantify the impact of parental absence(s) versus remittance transfers on left-behind children's well-being as measured by three indicators of physical development (stunting, wasting, and underweight) and 2) to identify the extent to which the combination of parental absences with the infusion of remittances are beneficial or detrimental to left - behind children's physical development under three types of economic migration (internal migration, South- North migration to the US, and South-South migration to Costa Rica). During the R00 phase, my third specific aim will entail expanding the project to capture migration dynamics in other areas of the globe that experience different migration dynamics and maintain high incidences of under nutrition. The availability of contemporary and extensive panel data for Nepal, the Philippines, and Uganda will allow me to enlarge the investigation to generalize my initial research aims globally. The research and training plans are structured to achieve the mission of the Pathway to Independence Award by applying new skills and knowledge to critical questions of economic migration and left-behind child well-being. This work will not only generate substantive results to be disseminated in conference presentations and scholarly publications, but will also form a base of inquiry from which to successfully compete for R01 funding and provide the skills necessary for the establishment of a prolific career as a migration and public health researcher.

Public Health Relevance

While great strides have been made in recent decades to stamp out under nutrition, over a quarter of the developing world's children still suffer from its debilitating effects. Remittances have been found to have positive benefits for left-behind children's nutrition outcomes; however, the temporary to long-term absence of migrant parents can have countervailing negative impacts. Through expert mentorship in children's health and nutrition, econometrics, and global migration dynamics, Dr. Jason Davis will apply newfound knowledge in these areas to disentangle these two competing forces in the debate over whether economic migration ultimately helps or hinders left-behind children's well-being in developing world settings.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Career Transition Award (K99)
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Biobehavioral and Behavioral Sciences Subcommittee (CHHD)
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Bures, Regina M
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University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Schools of Public Health
Chapel Hill
United States
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