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Embedding or Uprooting? The Effects of International Labour Migration on Rural Households in Armenia

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Abstract

The impact of international labour migration on human wellbeing and socioeconomic development in communities of origin is an important yet understudied issue in contemporary migration research. This study examines whether men's labour migration from rural Armenia to Russia and other international destinations enhances the economic and social connections of the left-behind households to their communities or, on the contrary, undermines those connections and encourages household members' own migration. Using survey data, it compares families of migrants and non-migrants with respect to ownership of productive and major non-productive assets in the community and women's non-farm labour force participation, their social engagement in the village, and their desires to migrate abroad. The results of statistical tests indicate that men's migration is negatively associated with households' asset ownership and with women's non-farm employment. The results for women's social engagement in their villages are less consistent. Finally, regardless of economic attachment, social engagement, and a host of other factors, wives of migrants were significantly more likely to wish to move abroad than women married to non-migrants, and the difference in propensity to emigrate between migrants' and non-migrants' wives increases with duration of husband's migration. We situate these findings in the context of Central Eurasia's international labour migration system and discuss their implications for future migration trends and for socioeconomic development of Armenia and similar settings.

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