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Men's Migration and Women's Lives: Views from Rural Armenia and Guatemala

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  • *Direct correspondence to Cecilia Menjívar, School of Social and Family Dynamics, Program in Sociology, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-3701 〈menjivar@asu.edu〉. We would like to acknowledge funding from several sources at Arizona State University that allowed us to conduct fieldwork for this project. A Faculty Grant in Aid award, a Center for Latin American Studies Summer grant, and a Summer Grant from the Women and Gender Studies Program supported research in Guatemala, and a Catalyst Grant from the Institute for Social Science Research and funds from the School of Social and Family Dynamics supported research in Armenia. The authors will provide all data and coding information to those wishing to replicate the study.

Abstract

Objectives. This study seeks to comparatively assess the consequences of men's migration for gender roles and relations in Armenia and Guatemala.

Methods. We use 29 in-depth interviews conducted with women in Guatemala and 27 interviews conducted in Armenia, complemented with field observations. Results. Men's migration exerts diverse effects on their wives' lives, and these effects are mediated by the sociocultural milieu in which the women live and by the context in which the men generate incomes. As do other studies, we find that women take on added responsibilities when their partners migrate for work, but unlike most other studies, our data do not show that these new responsibilities significantly transform women's status and relationships.

Conclusions. On balance, the division of labor established through the husbands' migration further reinforces gender inequality. Men's role as breadwinners and primary decisionmakers is further strengthened, as is women's subordinate position in the household.

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