The effects of migration and family structures on transitions to adulthood in urban Kenya

Shelley Clark, McGill University
Cassandra Cotton, McGill University

Adolescent migration is closely linked with key transitions to adulthood in sub-Saharan Africa. While urban migration offers adolescents many new opportunities, it typically coincides with considerable disruption of family support. Using detailed life history data from young men and women in Kisumu, Kenya, we examine differences in timing of five transitions (finishing secondary school, finding employment, sexual debut, marriage, and pregnancy) between migrants and non-migrants. We pay particular attention to whether changes in family support, associated with migration, account for different life trajectories of migrants and non-migrants. We find that migration increases educational opportunities for females, while it has no effect on schooling for males. In addition, adolescents whose parents are alive and who are supported primarily by their mother or father are less likely to drop out of school. These findings suggest that migrants with strong family support are better able to successfully transition to adulthood.

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Presented in Session 84: Female migration