Despite the acknowledged importance and large scale of rural-urban migration in many developing countries, few studies have compared education outcomes of migrants to those for people born in the city. This paper uses recent data from Dhaka, Bangladesh, and Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, Vietnam, to examine educational expenditure and children’s grade attainment, with a focus on poor households. It finds that rural-urban migrant households have fewer assets, live in worse housing conditions and in areas less well served by public schools, have fewer social connections in the area where they live, and contain adults with lower educational levels than for urban native households. Even conditional on these household characteristics, educational expenditure and grade attainment were both lower for children from migrant households than urban natives. The findings are consistent with migrant children’s education being impeded by bureaucratic obstacles such as the household registration system in Vietnam. The paper concludes by noting that expansion of urban school systems sometimes fails to keep pace with population movements. While the barriers to education of recent migrants in these two contexts are in many ways similar to those of other poor urban households, they are among the most severely disadvantaged but do not always benefit from existing programmes such as school fee waivers. Specific policies may be needed to address the multiple causes of educational deprivation for this group.

Sustainable Development Goals:
Related Subject(s): Children and Youth
Countries: Bangladesh; Viet Nam

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  • Published online: 31 Dec 2012
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