Migrant Husbands and Left-behind Wives: Effect of Spousal Separation on Subjective Well-being of Young Nepali Women
Migration may be seen as household strategy to maximize household welfare in which other members of the family are heavily involved. The migration of male members of family, however, may push female members of household into various forms of vulnerabilities as well as new form of opportunities. The “left-behind” wives of the migrants will have to bear new responsibilities in the family. Some studies have shown that the male outmigration and resulting remittance flow have helped in improving family consumption and welfare, “gender empowerment” and gender norms. However, wives of migrants have to bear higher cost in terms of emotional detachment and loss of intimacy, increased care responsibilities, etc. Determinant of the effect of husband’s migration on the welfare of the wives is complex and not easily captured by some dimensions of welfare like household income, consumption, etc. alone. We use subjective well-being (SBW) as measure to capture the effect of husband’s migration on the welfare of the wife of the migrants.
The massive outmigration of Nepali youths in search of employment is common phenomenon in Nepal. It has impacted every aspects of life in Nepali society. The recent data shows that husband of about 34 percent of married women lives away from their home and almost half of them are living away for a year or more. Undoubtedly, the spousal separation has social, economic and emotional effects on “left-behind wives”. The effects are reflected in the welfare of the family, changing gender role, increased household care responsibilities, labor supplies, etc. However, there is scant literature on the effect of spousal separation on wellbeing of those left-behind wives. The purpose of this study is to explore the various aspects of well-being the spousal separation on the left-behind wives. Using household level data from the Multiple Indicator cluster Survey (MICS), this paper access the impact of spousal separation on the subjective well-being of the young left-behind wives and the determinants of their subjective well-being.