Migration and absent fathers: Impacts on the mental health of left-behind family members in Thailand

Benjamas Penboon, Aree Jampaklay, Patama Vapattanawong, Zachary Zimmer - Asian and Pacific Migration Journal


This paper examines whether children and main caregivers of overseas migrant fathers have fewer or more mental health symptoms compared to those of non-migrant fathers. The sample includes 997 households from the 2008 Child Health and Migrant Parents in South-East Asia project. The mental health measurements are the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire and the Self-Reporting Questionnaire. Compared to children of non-migrant fathers, those of migrant fathers are more likely to demonstrate conduct problems and hyperactivity/inattention. Factors which appear to impact a caregiver's mental health include the physical health status of children, caregiver's education level and household economic status. To reduce the risk of mental health problems on left-behind children, our findings imply the importance of encouraging and educating left-behind families to monitor the children's psychological well-being, especially those in father-migrant families.