A binational analysis of infant mortality among crisis-driven diasporas and those who remain: a population-based study in Colombia and Venezuela
BMJ Global Health, 7:8, e009523 (2022)
Objective: To assess the health cost (or benefit) of crisis-driven migration by focusing on the infant mortality rate (IMR) of the Colombian diaspora in Venezuela and the Venezuelan diaspora in Colombia.
Methods: We compare national to diaspora IMRs over the period 1980-2018. National IMRs are death-to-birth ratios reported by the official vital statistics, whereas diaspora IMRs are calculated by using a semiparametric regression model on the summary birth histories collected in the population censuses. We analyse the diaspora IMRs according to whether their arrival corresponds to precrisis or crisis-driven migration.
Results: During crises, diaspora IMRs show better health outcomes than those of non-migrants. The Colombian diaspora had an average annual IMR of -1.8 (95% CI -3.3 to 0.28) per year and the Venezuelan diaspora had -4.5 (95% CI -5.8 to -3.3). However, the protective role of migration is neither guaranteed nor consistent, as a crisis in the country of destination exposes immigrants to worse health outcomes than the non-migrant population.
Conclusion: Migration is a survival strategy that allows people to reduce the negative effects they face during a crisis in their country of origin. The distinction between crisis-driven and precrisis migration provides a framework for assessing the cross-border effects on health outcomes due to diaspora composition, particularly when populations face adverse conditions.
Keywords: Colombia, Venezuela, child mortality, circular migration