Impact of Men’s Labour Migration on Non-migrating Spouses’ Health: A Systematic Review

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

Research output: Working paperPreprint


International migration is in an increasing trend globally; internal migration is also very common, particularly in low- and middle- income countries (LMICs). Little attention has been paid to the impact of men’s migration on non-migrating women’s health. Therefore, we undertook a systematic review to examine the impact of men's migration on the health of women who remain behind in LMICs. We searched five databases, CINAHL, Google Scholar, PsychINFO, PubMed and Scopus, for publications from 2005 to 2022 using key search terms 'left-behind', 'women' and 'migration'. Thirty-three peer-reviewed publications were included in the review. Findings suggest that left-behind women had increased access to healthcare due to better financial positions (via remittances) and experienced more empowerment/autonomy in the absence of their husbands. This resulted in increased (a) decision-making regarding their health and (b) freedom of mobility to seek healthcare. 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. 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 pages11
Publication statusPublished - 13 May 2023


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