Migrants' competing commitments: Sexual partners in urban Africa and remittances to the rural origin

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Migrants form nonfamilial ties in urban destinations, which could compete with origin families for a share of remittances. A framework of competing commitment predicts that new relationships affect remittances depending on the extent to which they substitute for the benefits provided by origin families. Analyses of data from urban migrants in Kenya show that serious nonmarital sexual partners substitute for psychosocial support from the rural family and that material transfers migrants give to these partners significantly reduce remittances. The findings have implications for the ways scholars conceive of competition, the nature of exchange, and substitution of support across intimate relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1435-1479
Number of pages45
JournalAmerican Journal of Sociology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 2010


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science

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