Social Science & Medicine, Volume 280, July 2021
In developing countries, labor out-migration has led to millions of married couples living apart from each other. Male out-migration brings economic benefits to the families in places of origin, but also leads to profound changes in the lives of the left-behind wives. It is unclear how the husband’s out-migration influences the health of wives, let alone the mechanisms through which any effects are transmitted. Using data from the Indian Human Development Survey (2004–2005 and 2011–2012), we estimated lagged dependent variable models (N = 19,737) to assess the health impact of husbands’ out-migration for women in India. The results showed that left-behind wives had lower self-rated health than wives of non-migrants. Part of this negative health impact was driven by the low remittances sent by the migrant husbands. For both women in nuclear families and women in extended families, the negative health impact was partially attributable to women’s added responsibilities, such as animal care and managing a bank account. For women in nuclear families, the negative health effect of husbands’ migration has been partially suppressed by women’s increased autonomy.