Socio-Cultural Dispositions and Wellbeing of the Women Left Behind: A Case of Migrant Households in Nepal

Soc Indic Res. 2012 Sep;108(3):401-420. doi: 10.1007/s11205-011-9883-9. Epub 2011 Jun 11.


The concept of wellbeing is gaining popularity in the study of quality of life and cultural significance of living. The paper aims to contribute to our understanding of objective and subjective wellbeing by exploring the perceptions of women left behind by out-migrating husbands on their quality of life in a transnational social field. The paper uses both qualitative and quantitative research methods. Its primary focus is on the life stories of the four women left behind by their migrant husbands, complementing by quantitative data obtained from a survey among 277 households. Taking an example from Nepal's eastern terai, the paper shows that additional income from remittances has increased the objective wellbeing of the women left behind, but it may not have increased their subjective wellbeing. Hence, it is concluded that improved objective wellbeing of a woman does not necessarily translate into her (improved) subjective wellbeing. The subjective experiences are rather complex, multi-faceted and context specific depending on the family situation, socio-cultural disposition and prior economic situation of the actors involved.