Publication | Patterned Remittances Enhance Women's Health-Related Autonomy


Authors: Sharon H Green, Charlotte Wang, Swethaa S Ballakrishnen, Hannah Brueckner, Peter Bearman

INCITE has published results from a research study analyzing how the timing of remittances received by women in migrant-sending countries impacts women’s health and autonomy. Focusing on a sample of respondents in the Indian state of Kerala, primary findings reveal that the benefits of remittances for women’s autonomy manifest more through the regularity and frequency with which they are received, than the amount of money remitted.

These conclusions indicate the need to look beyond questions of amount when studying the impact of remittances. They also suggest that very simple changes, which enable migrants to send funds back home more regularly, can make a difference in the lives of women and children left behind. “With regular remittances, even of small amounts of money, women are able to plan, and this planning capacity translates into greater autonomy over their health care decisions,” notes Charlotte Wang, INCITE’s Director of Research, who co-authored the paper. “Right now, though, migrants pay a fixed fee each time they send money home, and this incentivizes them to limit the number of times they remit funds. If fees were associated with amount, rather than frequency, remittances would likely be more frequent.”

The research was conducted as part of INCITE’s Research & Empirical Analysis of Labor Migration Program (REALM), which centers on the social structures and dynamics of labor migration in the Persian Gulf region, with particular attention to processes taking place in migrant-sending countries. 

Read the full paper, published in Social Science and Medicine: Population Health, here.