Childhood inequalities brief

This work package focuses on how South-South Migration (SSM) contributes to, and impacts on, children who move or are left behind including: the ability of children to access opportunities for migration through regular channels; vulnerabilities and protection challenges associated with SSM; opportunities for inequality reduction created by SSM, for example in terms of access to education and income generation.

In line with the work package goal to understand the vulnerabilities and protection challenges associated with SSM and the opportunities for inequality reduction created by SSM, this research will take a rights-based, participatory approach. Research will be conducted in countries of origin and destination. Based on preliminary conversations, some cross-corridor components have been identified and additional one-off research programmes adapted to the specific countries of interest will also be developed. All three research components will be preceded by an inception phase including the mapping of relevant frameworks and laws around child migrants in these countries and achievements and gaps in the protection of child migrants. The inception phase will further include the conducting of key informant interviews in the countries on interest to further nuance and refine the research programmes.

  • A cross-corridor examination of children left behind. This component will develop a cross-corridor framework for examining the well-being of children left behind.
  • A close study of child labour of children from Burkina Faso in Côte d’Ivoire.
  • Child migrant integration. This will consider the integration needs of Ethiopian children in South Africa, or opportunities for "informal integration" into services.

While the child migration profiles in these corridors differ significantly, the research will include both cross-corridor and corridor-specific research questions. In line with the WP goal to both understand the vulnerabilities and protection challenges associated with SSM and the opportunities for inequality reduction created by SSM, this research will take a rights-based, participatory approach and seek to address key gaps which include, among others:

  • Temporality: how inequalities develop across stages of childhood and transitions to adulthood
  • Children's potential: most of the literature focuses on children's vulnerabilities in situations of labour, trafficking and mixed migration while research gaps remain on migration's impact on children's potential, as well as children's sense of autonomy, and capacity to contribute to their and their families' futures
  • Decision making: The role of education and child wellbeing in the decision to migrate. For instance, education is often overlooked as a driver of migration.


In each of the four research components, specific attention will be paid to the modalities of child participation in the research to ensure its positive impact for them. When possible, children will be engaged in finalising the research tools themselves, and they will be specifically targeted through the interventions stemming from the research. It is expected that the research component of this work package will be conducted primarily in years 1-3, with the first 6-8 months the inception phase in the four research components (to allow for their re-thinking as appropriate) followed by the sequential conduct of the four research components.

The following highlights key tools to be used across components, tailored to the specific research focus:

  • Mapping of locations: in-depth community analysis.
  • Case studies based on family tracing: network tracing, cross-border research, with families.
  • Retrospective interviews: Creating life histories with returnee migrants or those left behind.
  • Key informant interviews: UN, NGOs, CSOs, government and research institutions.
  • Semi-structured interviews: Key actors, such as recruiters, employers, truck drivers, or police.
  • Quantitative surveys: TBD exploring retroactive information on child migration.

Research Questions

  1. How do inequalities develop through childhood in relation to migration?
    1. Stages of childhood, of migration and types of inequalities.
    2. Children's awareness / families' awareness (information, counselling, legal assistance).
    3. Support systems / types of intermediaries.
    4. Risk factors and predatory actors / types of intermediaries.
  2. How does migration impact (support or undermine) the human potential of children?
    1. Access to services especially education, health, food.
    2. Access to and use of ICT.
    3. Child labour's impact on children's wellbeing.
    4. The role of remittances (social, economic).
  3. How does age influence migration decision-making and outcomes?
    1. The role of children in migration decisions (directly, indirectly).
    2. The role of children within households and communities (economic, social, cultural).
    3. Children as actors of their own migration - autonomy and assistance, boredom and aspirations, social spaces and societal participation.
  4. What are local perceptions of childhood? How is child defined at the individual, household and communal level? How does this intersect within the above three questions?