Migration and Family Happiness in Bolivia: Does Social Disintegration Negate Economic Well-being?



Various authors have begun to address the social impacts of international migration on families left behind. Family disintegration results from two separate factors: family separation and the loss of traditional values. Findings from this research (based on a random survey of over 400 households in three municipios of the central part of the state of Cochabamba, Bolivia, in the autumn of 2007) indicate that economic well-being made possible by migration increases levels of professed family happiness. However, family disintegration resulting from migration decreases family happiness even more, with the net result that migrant households are considerably less happy than non-migrant households. It is suggested that this result can be traced to the dynamic conflict between the traditional, group-focused image of change prior to migration (engendering feelings of togetherness and security) and the modern, ego-focused image of change that is a major social remittance of migration (generating competition and role insecurity).