Economic Well-Being in Salvadoran Transnational Families: How Gender Affects Remittance Practices


  • This article was edited by Ralph LaRossa.

Department of Anthropology, University of California, Irvine, Social Science Plaza, B 4269, Irvine, CA 92697-5100 (


This article examines how migrant parents' gender affects transnational families' economic well-being. Drawing on 130 in-depth interviews with Salvadoran immigrants in the United States and adolescent and young adult children of migrants in El Salvador, I demonstrate that the gender of migrant parents centrally affects how well their families are faring. Gender structurally differentiates immigrant parents' experiences through labor market opportunities in the United States. Simultaneously, gendered social expectations inform immigrants' approaches to parental responsibilities and remitting behaviors. Remittances—the monies parents send—directly shape children's economic well-being in El Salvador. I find that even though immigrant mothers are structurally more disadvantaged than immigrant fathers, mother-away families are often thriving economically because of mothers' extreme sacrifices.