Grant TypePost PhD Research Grant
Institutional AffiliationIllinois, Chicago, U. of
Grant numberGr. 9703
Approve DateOctober 5, 2018
Project TitleLiese, Dr. Kylea L., U. of Illinois, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Migration, Marriage and Maternal Risk in Tajikistan'
Preliminary abstract: Post-Soviet Tajikistan is the most remittance-dependent country in the world, with nearly half of all young Tajik men living as labor migrants in Russia. This study investigates the social and demographic impact of male migration on the reproductive livelihoods of the wives and families who remain in rural Tajikistan. At independence, the Tajik government adopted many Soviet regulations geared toward gender equality (e.g., minimum marriage age, free access to contraception and health care, and compulsory secondary education). As a result, Tajikistan had relatively high indicators of gender equality and low rates of maternal and infant mortality. Since the socio-economic upheaval of independence from the USSR and subsequent civil war, these social institutions have slowly eroded. As more and more young men are sent to work in Russia, increasingly younger women are pulled from school to marry them. Young brides fill household labor shortages left by their husbands and strengthen migrants’ connection to their home through childbearing. However, studies show that decreasing the age at first pregnancy and lowering rates of female secondary eduction may increase maternal risk. To document and contextualize the impact of male migration on maternal health and reproductive livelihoods, we employ a mixed-methods strategy. Our marriage history survey will allow us to quantify and compare women’s age at first marriage, educational attainment and reproductive health to previously collected data and to national surveys. Through participant observation and qualitative interviews with wives, husbands, and family members we will identify and contextualize how meanings and practices associated with changes in marriage, gender roles and reproduction relate to Tajikistan’s economic dependence on men’s labor migration to Russia.