Labor migration profoundly affects households throughout rural Africa. This study looks at how men's labor migration influences marital fertility in a context where such migration has been massive while its economic returns are increasingly uncertain. Using data from a survey of married women in southern Mozambique, we start with an event-history analysis of birth rates among women married to migrants and those married to nonmigrants. The model detects a lower birth rate among migrants' wives, which tends to be partially compensated for by an increased birth rate upon cessation of migration. An analysis of women's lifetime fertility shows that it decreases as the time spent in migration by their husbands accrues. When we compare reproductive intentions stated by respondents with migrant and nonmigrant husbands, we find that migrants' wives are more likely to want another child regardless of the number of living children, but the difference is significant only for women who see migration as economically benefiting their households. Yet, such women are also significantly more likely to use modern contraception than other women. We interpret these results in light of the debate on enhancing versus disrupting effects of labor migration on families and households in contemporary developing settings.
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