Impact of Men’s Labour Migration on Non-migrating Partner’s Health in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Review

Shraddha Manandhar, Padam Simkhada, Philip Brown, Edwin R. Van Teijlingen

Research output: Working paperPreprint


Globally, international and internal labour migration are common phenomena. In LMICs, labour migration, particularly international migration, typically means the men migrate while their wives/partners remain at home to take care of their family. Little attention has been paid to the impact of men’s migration on non-migrating partner’s health. Therefore, we undertook a systematic review to explore the impact of men's migration on the health of women who remain behind in LMICs. We searched five databases, CINAHL, Google Scholar, PsycINFO, PubMed and Scopus, for publications from 2005 to 2022. Thirty-three peer-reviewed publications were included in the review out of which 15 explored mental health, 13 looked at sexual and reproductive health, ten at physical health, five at health-care accessibility and four studies focused on other health related issues. Findings suggest that women who remained behind or ‘left-behind’ women had increased access to healthcare due to better financial positions (via remittances). Remittances led to improved food and housing security, a critical wider determinant of health. However, some studies reported that in the longer term, the physical health of women who remain behind was negatively impacted. Almost all studies on mental health reported higher depressive symptoms among migrant wives compared to women co-habiting with their spouses. Left-behind women feared contracting sexually transmitted infections from their migrant partners. Our findings also showed that several marriage, family, finance and individual factors could affect the health of women who remain behind. National and local policies should include support groups and counselling services at the local health centre for women who remain behind. We recommend further studies on the areas presented above as well as unexplored areas such as vulnerability to violence and impact of remittance on health and nutrition.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jul 2023

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