WEP 2-26/WP 55
WORLD EMPLOYMENT PROGRAMIE
MIGRATION FOR EMPLOYMENT PROJECT
THE WOMEN LEFT BEHIND:
A STUDY OF THE WIVES OF
THE MIGRANT WORKERS OF LESOTHO
Note: Working Papers are preliminary material circulated to
stimulate discussion and critical comment.
Copyright ( International Labour Organisation, Geneva, December 1978
This is the thirty-fifth paper to appear in the World
Employment Programme working paper series of the research project
on Migration for Employment. The aim of the project is to investi-
gate the implications of international migration movements from
low-income to high-income countries for economic and social policy
Elizabeth Gordon's paper is the third coming from the UNFPA/ILO
supported Lesotho team of researchers. (The other two are working
papers no. 17 and 19 see appended list.) It treats a subject of
great importance that has hitherto received little attention the
fate of the women who cannot accompany the migrating men. The
empirical analysis is based on sections of the large-scale survey
of migrant households that formed part of the team's research. It
is hoped to present further data in future working papers.
II Background to the Study
1. The Impact of Labour Migration on the
Lives of Married Women in Lesotho
2. Controversies Relating to the Wives'
Lives in the Absence of their Husbands
III Research Methodology
1. Site Selection
2. The Questionnaire
3. Interviewer Training
4. Field Procedures: Sampling in the field
5. Data Handling Procedures
6. The Data Analysis
1. Frequency Distribution of the Wives Strain
2. Explanation of the Tables of Cross-
3. Demographic Characteristics
A. The Wives
B. The Husbands
C. The Households
4. Cross-tabulations of strain score with
A. The Wives Characteristics
2. Relationship to Household head
3. Number of children
4. Year of marriage
B. The Husbands Characteristics
2. Year started working as a migrant 35
3. Number of years worked as a migrant 36
4. Variables whose association with
strain score was found to be
C. The Household Characteristics 3P
1. Ecological zone 38
2. Adequacy of income 30
3. Household variables whose relation-
ship with strain score was not
5. The Wives' Greatest Problems in their
Husbands' Absence '1
6. Cross-tabulations with Wives'Greatest
A. With Strain Score
B. With Wife's Age ,
7. Wives' Attitudes Towards Family Life in the
Light of Labour Migration 2
8. Cross-Tabulations with Wives' Attitudes
A. When husband is away he still continues
to make important decisions concerning
the family 55
B. When husband is away the wife makes
important decisions concerning the
C. When husband is away, the family fields and
and livestock are the wife's
1. Cross-tabulated with strain score 5J
2. Cross-tabulated with age
3. Cross-tabulated with relationship to
D. The wife would like it to be possible to
gn and live with her husband at his
place of work (1
E. Wife would like her husband to accept
a job in Lesotho, were he offered one
with the same pay he now receives. '
9. Summary of the Findings 3
The Controversies in the Light of the Study's
A. Migration as a normal way of life to
which the families have become accustomed
B. The extended family as largely substituting
for the absent male
C, The wives decision-making function and
their attitudes towards it.
D. The wives' attitude of resignation
The Wives Experiencing the Greatest Strain
A. Greater responsibilities
B. Fewer resources
C. Longer exposure to their husbands'
D. Greater desire for reunion with their
E. In conclusion: A process is involved
VI Implications for Policy Planning
1. Evolving a Planning Strategy
A. The drawbacks of an exclusively target
B. The need for a planning strategy that
embraces a dual goal
C. The need to utilize a variety of types
2. Suggestions for areas of program development
A. Suggestions arising out of the wives'
B. Suggestions inspired by the factors
distinguishing the wives in difficulty
1. The Migrants' Wives Interview
2. Demographic Data on the Migrant
3. Information on Household Members
The Survey Sites
The Strain Seore Questions
Tables of Demographic Data
2. Husbands' Characteristics
3. Household Characteristics
List of Tables Page
Table 1: Wife's Age by Strain Score Number 29
Table 2: Wife's Age by Strain Score Percent 3"
Table 3: Wife's Relationship to Household Head by
Strain Score 31
Table 4: Number of Children by Strain Score 32
Table 5: Year of Marriage by Strain Score 33
Table 6: Husband's Age by Strain Score 3
Table 7: Year Husband Started Working as a Migrant
by Strain Score 35
Table 8: Number of Years Husband Worked as a Migrant
by Strain Score 3
Table 9: Ecological Zone by Strain Score 3V
Table 10: Adequacy of Household Income by Strain Score 39
Table 11: Wives'Problems ir Husbands' Absence 45
Table 12: Wives'Problems As Percent of Problem
Table 13: Greatest Problem Cross-tabulated with Strain
Table 1I: Greatest Problem by Wife's Age P7
Table 15: Wives' Answers t., Attitude Questions 51-53
Table 16: Wives' Attitudes Summarized 5.
Table 17: Husband's Decision-Making Cross-tabulated
with Strain 'core 5
Table 18: Wife's Decisior-Making by Age 58
Table 19: Wife's Respons.bility for Fields and Livestock
by Strain Score R
Table 20: Wife's Responsibility for Fields and Livestock
Table 21: Wife's Responsibility for Fields and Livestock
by Relationship to Household Head
Table 22: Wife's Desire to Live at Husband's Place of
Work by Strain Score rI
Table 23: Wife's Desire for Husband to Work in Lesotho
by Strain Score
Table A-1: Wife's Aj; 97
- V -
List of Tables, continued
Wife's Relationship to Household Head
Number of Children
Year of Marriage
Husband's Education: School Attendance
Husband's Education: Highest Standard
Industry of Husband's Employment
Type of Mine in which Employed Miners
Year Husband First Worked as a Migrant
Total Number of years Husband Worked as a
Number of Migrants in the Household
Total Number in Household
Sex of Household Head
Whether the Household Head is a Migrant
Whether Household Income is Adequate
Whether the Household Depends Solely on
Migrants Remittances for its Income
- vi -
THE WOMEN LEFT BEHIND:
A STUDY OF THE WIVES OF
THE MIGRANT WORKERS OF LESOTHO
(The National University,
This paper describes a study conducted as part of an investiga-
tion into the impact of labour migration on Lesotho. It explores
an area not previously the subject of systematic empirical research
in Lesotho: the world of the wives left behind. The research took
the form of a survey of wives of men working in South Africa, and
was conducted as part of a larger study of households of migrant
workers. Data was collected at 14 sites throughout the country, using
a structured questionnaire administered in personal individual
interviews. Five hundred and twenty-four interviews with wives of
migrants were available for analysis.
The analysis focused on a delineation of the wives' situation;
their characteristics, attitudes and problems, and the association
of these with relevant dependent and independent variables. A specific
concern was the identification of those wives' experiencing the
greatest degree of difficulty in their husbands' absence, and the
factors that related to this difficulty. The implication of these
findings for evident controversies regarding the wives have been
discussed, and recommendations as to their use in developing proposals
for improvement in the wives situation have been advanced.
II Background to the Study
There are two major areas of concern out of which the study
developed, which sparked the original interest in carrying out a
survey of migrant wives and helped to shape its goals The first
involves the specific nature of labour migration in Lesotho; its
extent, and the nature of its impact on family life, and especially,
the lives of married women in the country. The second relates to the
intriguing controversies pertaining to the wives' lives in the light
of labour migration that became apparent in exploring this subject.
Both areas will be discussed below, to provide an understanding of
the context within which the research was developed.
1. The Impact of Labour Migration on the Lives of Married
Women in Lesotho
The specific conditions of labour migration in Lesotho ensure
that its impact on marital life is profound. When a man crosses the
border to work in South Africa, he leaves his family behind. By law,
he must migrate alone. Women and children are prohibited from living
with him. South African law also dictates that the worker cannotremain
continually in South Africa for longer than two years. He must return
to Lesotho, for at least a leave, when that period has elapsed.
These condition give rise to a type of migration described as
oscillating. The familiar pattern is for the migrant to leave his
family in the village, work in South Africa for a period of time, return
to his family for as long as he feels is economically feasible, and once
again, to cross the border to work.
SNattrass, Jill, "The Migrant Labour System and South Africa's Economic
Development," Department of Economics, University of Natal,
September, 1975 (mimeo), p.2
The extent of migration in Lesotho means that it is probably
the majority of married women in the country whose husbands conform
to this pattern for at least part of the time. It has been
estimated that approximately half of the adult male labour force are
absentees working in South Africa at any time, with a much higher
percent working there at some point in their lives.
To gain an understanding of what this particularly means for
married women in Lesotho, an estimate will be made of the number of
married women living as wives of absent migrants at any one time.
Determining the number of migrants working out of the country, and
the proportion of these who are married, enables this to be approximated.
The exact figures for men working outside Lesotho are difficult
to obtain, except for mine workers, on whom statistics are kept by
the recruitment offices and the Department of Labour. Figures for 1976
indicate an average of 121, 1(1 Basotho working in the mines of South
Africa at any point in time. Applying a marriage rate of 70/% to this,
leads to the conclusion that che miners leave behind close to 85,000
wives living in Lesotho. If the wives of the between 30,000 and 80,000
men working as migrants in agriculture, construction and other
industries are added, the number left behind reaches above 100,000 and
may approach 150,000. The 1976 Census indicates that 234,159 married
1 Cobbe, J.H. "Approaches to Conceptualization and Measurement of the
Social Costs of Labour Migration from Lesotho", in Agency
for Industrial Mission, ed., South Africa Today: A Good
Host Country for Migrant Wo.kers? (mimeo), 1976, p.2
2 F:Lgures obtained from Department of Labour, Maseru.
3 This rate has been found to be true for migrants in the present
ctudy, and in the researches conducted by Van Der Wiel and
reported in: Van der Wiel, A.C.A., Migratory Wage Labour: Its Role
in the Economy of Lesotho, Mazenod Book Centre, 1977, p.34. A
slightly higher ra-e, 73.4% was reported by Mc Dowall for miners
; n M^ r TnrlI1 M Roranfthn T.,hnmir in qnr'thArn Afrirn Minna -
women reside in Lesotho! Thus, it appears that 40-60% of married
women in tha country live as wives of absent migrants at any one
Not only are the effects of migration
extensive in terms of the number of wives affected, but also there
are indications that they are long term impacting for many years
on a family's life. Mc Dowall found that the average miner spends
35% -sf his working life in the mines, a total of approximately 15
years away from home, and that he tends to migrate when in his
twenties, thirties and forties. Van der Wiel, similarly, found
twenty yearri to be the average age at which migrants first go
to work, with approximately one-third retiring before 40 years old,
and about two-thirds by the age of 50. He estimated the number of
years a migrant worker spends outside Lesotho to be 16 for those
coming fro.n the lowlands and 13 for those from the mountain zone.
The findings from both these investigations, thus, point to the
migrant as being largely absent during critical years of his marriage
and much of the childhood years of his children.
The nature of labour migration in Lesotho and its extent,
both in terms of the number -f wives affected and the length of
time their husbands are away, mean that it plays a critical role in
shaping married women's lives. Migrant labour can be seen as defining
the very structure of marital life in Lesotho, determining what
marriage and family life have come to mean for the women of this country.
1 Prepublicati-onfigure obtained from the Bureau of Statistics,
2 Mc Dowall, op. cit-
For these wives, marriage means something quite different from living
together with their husbands, with each spouse contributing to the
solving of problems and the raising of children. Rather, as indicated,
their marriages follow the cyclical careers of their migrant husbands;
they live apart for much of their married life, coming together on the
husbands' leaves and visits home, the periods between contracts if
the husbands remain at home and, should this eventually occur, upon
the men's retirement.
The wives lives are further shaped by the fact that the number
and frequency of these visits home, and the degree to which the
husbands provide emotional and financial support, lies almost totally
outside of the women's control. The husbands' circumstances and moti-
vations largely determine their actions in these matters, with the
wives being relegated to dependent position. The women's lack of
control of their situation is further exacerbated by the fact that
there may be virtually no alternative to the husbands' migration.
Whether husbands or wives like it, no matter how well or badly the
wives do in the men's absence, the husbands may have to migrate to
be able to work, leaving their wives behind to get along without them.
2. Controversies Relating to the Wives'Lives in the Absence of Their
Many of the issues explored in the current study were formulated
as a result of the controversies that became apparent, in literature
and in discussion, as to the position of the wife in her husband's
absence. Observers pointing to disastrous effects of labour migration
on family life describe the wife's position as one of loneliness,
- 7 -
as being raised solely by her efforts,and the lack of a father's
presence as boding ill for their development.1
This view of the situation has been criticized as one bringing
Western ideas of the family to an inappropriate setting.2 In a culture
in which the norm is separated families, it is argued, and few children
have a resident father for their entire childhood, effects are very
different. Labour migration has been a fact of life for so long in
Lesotho, and is so widespread, it is asserted, that it has become the
normal course and families have adjusted to it. Wives have expected
a separated family situation from their first conception of marriage;
they plan for it and function normally in their husbands' absence.
In addition, this alternative view point argues, the extended family
largely makes up for the absence of husband and father. Kinsmen
take over the responsibilities of the absent migrant,
1. See the following sources for discussion of the negative effects
of labour migration on the family. The first four refer specifically
to the situation in Lesotho: Murray, ColinKeeping House in Lesotho:
A study of the Impact of Oscillating Migration, Unpublished Ph.D.
thesis, University of Cambridge, 1976., Cobbe, op.cit., Poulter
Sebastian, Family Law and Litigation in Basotho Society, Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 1976, pp.20-27., Agency for Industrial Mission,
ed., Another Blanket, Report on an investigation into the migrant
situation, A.I.M. Horizon, 1976., Schlemmer, Lawrence, "Social and
Cultural Perspectives on Migratory Labour", in Agency for Indust-
rial Mission, ed., South Africa Today: A Good Host Country for
Migrant Workers? (mimeo),1976.,and Read,Margaret, "Migrant Labour
in Africa and its Effects on Tribal Life", International Labour
Review, XLV:6, 1942, pp.605-631.
2. The existence of this opposing view was largely brought out through
discussion with colleagues. Professor Sebastian Poulter of the
Law Department of the University of Lesotho, was especially helpful
in this respect. This view appears to be at least implicit in
Spiegal's work, See: Spiegal, Andrew, Christian Marriage and
Migrant Labour in a Lesotho Village, Unpublished B.A. thesis,
University of Cape Town, 1975, and Spiegal, Andrew, "Christianity,
Marriage and Migrant Labour in Lusotho", in Verryne, T.D., ed.,
Church and Marriage in Modern Africa, Groenkloof: Ecumenical
Research Unit, 1975.
asseting his wife and children and supervising his fields and
livestock. The absence of one man in a family in which others
remain is viewed as not having a profound effect.
Dissenting opinion counters by asserting that the strength of the
extended family and the presence of available and willing substitute
males can no longer be taken for granted The phenomenon of labour
migration is so widespread, it is argued, that it is often the
majority, if not all, of the adult males that are absent in a family,
leaving those remaining hard-pressed and perhaps uninterested in taking
over their responsibilities. Also, labour migration itself is pointed
to as contributing to the loosening of ties holding the extended
family together, by absenting the men upon whom these patrilineal
ties are based. Friction bei.ween a man's wife and his parents, for
example, may flare up unchecked in his absence. The result, it is
asserted, is that nuclear fsiilies primarily look after their own
interests. It is only when these are fully taken care of that the
needs of an absent kinsman's family may be considered, often, in the
case of such activities as ploughing and planting, too late to be
of much use.
An additional controversy as to the wives' lives, explored in
the present study, is their decision-making power in their husbands'
absence and their attitudes toward that possible power. In one view,
the wife is described as being "left in full charge, not of her children,
but also of the property belonging to the absent male. She makes the
decision ... which the man must accept when he returns home."2
1 See Colson, Elizabeth, "Fanily Change in Contemporary Africa", in
Middleton, John, ed., Black Arica, London: Macmillan, 1970, p.
Moody, Elize, "Worren and Development in Southern Africa" Development
Southern Afri:an, Edititn,1976 (3), p.28
- fl _ i r r A __ _ _L _ --? a rr? _-? A S3 -L l* -i _
An alternate view places the husband as the decision-maker even when
absent, considering the wife to "usually lack the innovational decision
making ability whenever the head of the household is male and that
male is absent ... 1 Of particular interest in this respect is
the question of the wife's responsibility for fields and livestock in
the husband's absence. In one viewpoint, the women are asserted to have
largely taken over the responsibility for agriculture in Southern
Africa. In another view, they are seen as carrying out some of the
work in this area but with the men retaining ultimate power and
control. The situation is described as one in which "the absent men
have such authority that forward-looking well-educated wives are
afraid to innovate for fear their husbands will disapprove."3 The
attitude with which the wife views her possible decision-making
function is also debated. Does she see this a s bringing with it
an unwelcome burden of responsibility, or does she enjoy it as an
extension of her freedom of action?5
1 Williams, John C., "Lesotho: Economic Implications of Migrant
The S.A. Journal of Economics, 39:2, 1971, pp-
149-178, p. 161.
2 Moody, op. cit., p.26
3 Gay, Judy, "Women Without Men: Female Social Networks in a Male
Controlled Society", undated (mimeo), p.9.
4 Williams,op.cit., p.161
5 Speigal, op. cit., 1975, p.70, Colson, op. cit., p.155
III Research Methodology
In the light of the impact of labour migration on marriage
and family life in Lesotho and the unresolved controversies
surrounding the specific nature of this impact, it became clear
that any research exploring the effects of this phenomenon on the
country would do well to include this aspect. Also, it appeared
that, rather than to speculate as to the wives difficulties in
their husbands' absence, or their enjoyment of an independent role,
for example, or to ask other experts to express their views, the
optimal approach was to go to the wives themselves, in a representative
sample large enough to support conclusions, and ask them to describe
their situation as they perceived it. It was also felt that any
proposals for improvement that developed out of such a survey would,
by being based on the wives' own perceptions, be more likely to meet
The present study, then, was designed todevelop a picture of
the lives of the wives of the migrant workers. Its goals were an
increased understanding of the situation of these women and a
determination of those who were in especial difficulty. To these
ends, it explored the characteristics,attitudes and problems of the
wives. In terms of these variables, it aimed at differentiating those
having the greatest difficulty in their husbands' absence. It was
hoped that the research findings would serve as a basis for suggesting
directions for constructive change.
The survey methodology will be described below. As the survey
of the wives was undertaken as part of a large study of migrant house-
hn1da.- the methnAds rcpnt whrA tfhav nortanin Aivro=+1v +-n t^h wivo.-
1. Site Selection
The Bureau of Statistics has divided Lesotho into three
ecological zones; the lowlands, the foothills, and the mountains.
Within each of these, the country has been further broken down into
enumeration areas (E.A.'s), grouping of villages which range
in size from a handful of households to over 2,000. The E.A.'s
are identified by number, ranging from 1.01 to 60.23. All of the
country is included in this categorization.
It was decided to use this breakdown into areas as a sampling
frame for the study,with E.A.'s to be the sampling units. In order
to ensure that each zone of the country was adequately represented,
it was deemed necessary to stratify according to zone The proportion
of the sample to be drawn from each zone would reflect the distribution
of the population of the country; 40% of the sample would come from
the lowlands, and 30% each from the foothills and the mountains.1
Variability within zones was to be ensured by the provision that
no fewer than two sites were to be selected per zone.
The concern that the sample be both representative and varied
led to further considerations. It was felt that the sites selected
should optimally be heterogeneous as to size. Accordingly, for
sampling purposes, the number of households in each E.A. was obtained,
and the areas were arranged according to size within each ecological
1 This was based on the 1969 population estimate furnished by
the Bureau of Statistics, Maseru, which indicated a breakdown
of the population into 41% in the lowlands, 28% in the foothills,
and 31% in the mountains.
Another consideration was that of accessibility of site,
conceivably an important variable in understanding the behavior of
migrants. It was felt that the sites to be sampled, therefore,had
to include a number for which access to the country's capital and
to labour recruitment offices was difficult. Stratification along
this variable was therefore explored. Drawing on the practical
experience of the field workers of the Bureau of Statistics, each
E.A. was categorized as being accessbile by land rover, horseback
or airplane. The results of this procedure lead to the observation
that the great majority of E.A.'s in the lowlands and the foothills
were accessible by land rover, and in the mountains, by horse or
plane. In terms of representativeness of the sample, thus, it was
decided that ensuring the inclusion of inaccessible sites was only
critical for the mountain zone. The great number of such possible
sites in that zone meant that a sample chosen randomly would be
likely to achieve this.1 Stratification along this variable was
therefore felt not to be necessary.
The number of migrant households to be included in the sample
was determined according to the needs of the larger study. It had
to be large enough to permit generalization to be drawn as to
Lesotho as a whole, while being implementable in terms of the
constraints within which the study was operating. The sample size
was set at 2,400 migrant households; divided into 1,000 in the lowlands
and 700 each in the foothills and the mountains.
1 In fact, random sampling achieved this very well. Out of the
four mountain sites selected, only one could be reached by land
rover, the rest being accessible only on horseback.
Within each E,A. chosen as a site, all households were to be approached. Those
discovered to have at least one migrant worker would be interviewed, and these
would comprise the research sample .
In order to determine the number of households to be approached
60 per cent of all households were assumed to be migrant households.1
Based on thiq it was concluded that 1,670 households in the lowlands and
1,170 each in the foothills and in the mountains should be surveyed to yield
the required number of migrant households. The number of sites needed to
attain this number of total households had to be determined for each zone,
based on available information on the number of households in each E.A. It was
thus concluded that six sites in the lowlands, and four in the foothills and
mountains, would achieve the required numbers.
Following these considerations, the final sites for the study
could be selected. They were chosen randomly from a list of the E.A.'s
in the country, grouped according to zone, and within zone, according
to number of households. Fourteen E.A.'s were then chosen as the
fields sites for the study, ail of which were later surveyed.2
2. The Questionnaire
The questionnaire for the survey of the migrant wives was
planned to focus on their view of their lives in the light of labour
migration. It, thus, contained questions as to their attitutes towards
1 Sixty percent was suggested by Van der Wiel, in a personal
communication, as being the approximate proportion throughout
2 See Appendix II for a list of the survey sites.
a number of aspects of their situation. These included raising
children in the husbands' absence; responsibility for fields and
livestock; worrying about providing for the family; greatest problems;
satisfaction with the husband's part in the family; desire to live
with husband at work; and desire to have the husband work in Lesotho.
Items describing the wife's situation, such as the number of children
living with her, were also included in the questionnaire.
An advantage was realized in having the wife's questionnaire
included as part of a comprehensive interview with the migrant household.
Items from other parts of the interview could be used to gain additional
insights into her situation. The household chart, for example, contained
information on all the members of the household of which the wife was
a member, indicating, thereby, her position within it. The section of
the interview dealing with the migrant provided demographic data on
her migrant husband, as well as details of his work career. AL of this
information could be used in understanding her situation, without having
to be duplicated in the interview with the wife. This enabled the
wife's questionnaire to avoid being unduly lengthy.
The form of each of the questions used in the wife's questionnaire,
including the choice of format for the answer, was carefully oonsid'ored.
Both open-ended and closed-choice question were included where each
was was felt to be most appropriate. When a question was seen as being
exploratory, with a wide range of answers in the wives' own words
desired, open-ended questions were developed. This was the case in
those questions that referred to the wives' greatest difficulties in
their husbands' absence. Thought was also given to the number of
alternative choices to be offered in the closed-choice attitude questions.
It was felt that, in terms of increasing subtlety of response, a
five or a three-point attitude scale was preferable to one allowing
only for a yes or no response. It was found, however, that the
degree of distinction of response necessary in using a scale
with more points was impossible to obtain with Basotho respondents,
who were totally unfamiliar with such questions. To maximize validity,
then, the choice of answer was restricted to yes or no.
The translation of questions from English to Sesotho was
done with care, especially for those querying attitudes. The final
form of the questions was written by a Mosotho researcher completely
bilingual in English and Sesotho.
3. Interviewer Training
The interviewers were selected from students applying from
the Faculty of Social Sciences of the National University of Lesotho.
All were in their third or fourth year of university, majoring in a
social science, many with previous survey and interviewing experience.
All were native Sesotho speakers with a good command of English.
The interviewers were given an intensive two-week training that
focused on interviewing techniques, procedures in the field and
thorough familiarization with the survey instruments. Each part of
the questionnaire was reviewed, question by question, to clarify the
meaning of each and discuss any possible problems of presentation or
understanding. Mock interviews, both among the trainees and with
the trainer, were carried out to give the interviewers experience in
an interview situation. Pre-testing at two village sites provided
field practice for the trainees, in both interviewing and procedure
in the field. During the survey itself, the interviewers were sent
out as a team carefully supervised by senior researchers.
4. Field Procedures: Sampling in the field
The procedure for carrying out the survey in the field
involved the team of interviewers and senior researcher supervisors
going to each enumeration area selected as a study site. Every
household in every village within the area was then surveyed. Each
was queried as to whether it contained a member who was at present,
or had been within the past three years, a migrant worker in South
Africa, for a period of at least three months. If the response was
negative, the interviewer moved on to the next household. If positive,
the household was interviewed, as to its characteristics and the
details of the absent migrant workers. Household members who were them-
selves migrants at the time of interview, at home on leave, or had been
migrants with the past three years, were interviewed separately.
Data was collected on a maximum of three migrants, absent, present
or a combination of these, per household.
In terms of the study of the wives, each migrant household was
asked whether any of its members currently working in South Africa
were married. If so, each wife was interviewed separately using
the wife's questionnaire. As the aim of the study was to describe the
situation of wives in their husbands' absence, only wives of men
working in South Africa at the time of interview were included.
Women whose husbands were on leave within Lesotho, or whose husbands
had been migrant workers recently but were not at the time of the
widows of men who had been migrants were also not interviewed.
Field procedures specified that a maximum of three wives be interviewed
Every effort was made to reach all eligible migrants and wives.
The field procedures facilitated this. The usual program involved the
field team camping at a site for an extended period of up to a
week, livinG in one of the villages. For some sites that were
accessible to the University, team went out every morning to the
survey area, for some days, retLrning each day in the late afternoon.
Because of the continuity that was thus created, call-backs were
achieved with greater facility than is often the case in field
surveys. Should a migrant or a wife have been unavailable when
the household was originally contacted, the field team's presence in
the area fo~ a period of time made it possible for the interview to
take place on a return visit, Also, the team cartinued presence in the
area meant that ca respective interviewee could be tracked down if not
at home. Should someone have gone to a neighboring village or to the
fields, he could ofton be found, and interviewed on the spot, or brought
back to his home.
5. Data Handling Procedures
The questionnaires were edited and coded by a team of
research assitants under the constant supervision of senior researchers.
All coders we-e native Secotho speakers so that questionnaires could be
read in their original form. Each questionnaire was checked for
coding accuracy by a researcher, those of the wives' interviews
beirg reviewed by the author. The data was then entered on computer
- 18 -
cards and a computer program for identifying coding errors was run. All
such errors were rectified before the data analysis.
Due to the enormous amount of data collected and the shortage
of time for analysis, it was decided to concentrate the data analysis
on half of the questionnaires for the present. The questionnaires from
each enumeration area were divided into two groups on a random basis.
Each of these two groups was randomly assigned to one or the other of two
piles of questionnaires. One of these piles was selected randomly to
become the data base, containing over 1,000 household questionnaires in
which there were 524 interviews with migrants' wives.
6. The Data Analysis
The goal of the data analysis of the survey of the migrant wives
was multi-faceted. First, the study aimed at describing the wives,
forming a picture of who they are, the men they are married to, and the
households they live in. The second goal involved a delineation of their
feelings and attitudes toward the situation in which they find themselves,
and an exploration of the association of a number of these with relevant
independent variables. The third concern was to discern those areas in
which the wives experience the greatest problems in their husbands' absence.
The final goal of the analysis, perhaps the most ambitious, was
to identify those wives who appear to be in the most serious circum-
stances, having the greatest difficulty functioning in their husbands'
absence, and experiencing the greatest degree of dissatisfaction. To this
end, ten of the twenty-two attitude questions were developed as items clearly
indicating difficulty or dissatisfaction. These questions queried
such areas as whether the wife worried about the welfare of her
family, felt she had too many responsibilities, was satisfied with
her husband's role in various family activities, and whether she
would be happier if he were at home more. Each question was answered
with a yes or no, and was worded sj that for some questions greater
difficulty ur strain was indicated by a positive answer, and for others,
by a negative one. All items used to indicate strain were totally
unambiguous as to the direction of response that indicated greater
difficulty or dissatisfaction. These questions were dispersed among
the other attitude questions.
A strain score was calculated for each wife, based on her answers
to these ten questions. The number of questions she answered in the
direction indicating strain, (yes or no, as the case might be) was
divided by the total number for which she gave a response. Unanswered
question, those irrelevant to a particular wife, or those for whom
an answer of "don't know" was given, were excluded from consideration.
The resultant fraction was changed to a decimal. The strain scores
thus ranged from 0 (lowest possible strain)to 100 (highest possible
The association of strain score with other research variables
could then be examined, enabling a profile of thewives experiencing
the greatest difficulty to be established. The circumstances
associated with a high degree of subjective strain could thus be
In exploring these relationships between strain score and other
variables, strain score was viewed as the dependent variable.
- 20 -
Demographic characteristics, greatest problem experienced and
attitudes evidenced wore considered independent variables. The
only exception to this concerns the relationship of strain score
to wife's views on living with her husband at work and having her
husband work in Lesotho. Strain score in relation to these attitudes
would probably most logically be considered as independent,and
preferences expressed as dependent.
Being directed towards achieving these goals, the computer
analysis began with a frequency listing of all variables describing
the wives, the migrant husbands and the households. Frequency
listings of the wives' greatest problems and their answers to the
attitude questions were done in the same initial computer run. The
strain score of each wife was tabulated and a frequency distribution
of these obtained. Cross-tabulations were carried out between
relevant variables, especially between strain score and other
variables. The significance of each cross-tabulations was tested
using a chi square analysis. This procedure suggested other relevant
cross-tabulations whch were then done and tested for significance.
Data from 525 interviews with wives of migrants was analyzed.
Of these, 491 were the only wives to be interviewed in their households,
and 34 had an additional wife interviewed in the household; i.e. the
34 came from 17 households. There were no households in the study in
which three wives were interviewed.
For 513 of the wives, 98%, information was available on the
absent husband, which included demographic characteristics and
details of his migrant career. It might be noted that in the larger
migrant household study, information wasgathered on 654 absent married
migrants. This figure includes an unspecified number for whom a
wife did not meet the survey criteria, i.e. it includes both female
migrants and migrants away from home at the time of interview but not
working in South Africa. Thus, the 513 women interviewed represent a
minimum of 78% of the total possible sample of wives of men working in
It proved possible to compute a strain score for all but four of
the 525 wives. For these four, the information available was inadequate,
the relevant questions having been left unanswered. All cross-
tabulations involving strain score, thus, will have a maximum N of 521.
1. Frequency Distribution of the wives' Strain Scores
The strain scores, ranging from 0 to 100, were found to
be distributed as follows for the 521 wives:
Low Strain 20
Percent of Total
Percent of Total
x = 56.84
The distribution of strain scores was found to be normal at
P = .05, using the Kolmogorov -Smirnov test.
For use in cross-tabulations, the sample was divided into
three strain score groups. The low score group range from 0 to 40,
including 40. The medium range group went from 41 to 60, including 60,
and the high score group was from 61 to 100. In order to properly
evaluate the results of the cross-tabulations in which this score was
one of the variables, it should be kept in mind that the three groups
were uneven in number. They are as follows:-
Low Strain Group
Medium Strain Group
High Strain Group
Percent of Total
2. Explanation of the Tables of Cross-Tabulations
In cross-tabuations, the relationship between two variables
is examined. The goal is to determine whether the two variables are
significantly related or whether they bear no association with one
another. For all of the cross-tabulations included in the present
analysis, significance was determined using chi-square testing.
Chi square analysis of a table involves comparison of a
theoretical distribution of values with the actual distribution found
using the research data. The theoretical distribution of values of a
table is that which would be expected should the variables have no
association with one another. Chi square is a number which is
calculated from the tabular data and measures the extent to which
the actual and the expected distributions differ from each other.
Once chi square is calculated, reference is made to statistical
tables of the chi-square distribution to determine if the chi-square
value is larger than would be expected by chance, i.e. by assuming
that there is no association between the two variables. That is, if
the observed and the theoretical distributions are similar, chi square
is found to be small, and it is concluded that there is no significant
association. Conversely, if the observed and the theoretical distributions
differ, to a great enough degree, chi square is found to be large enough
to support the conclusion that there exists a significant association
between the variables, one which chance alone cannot explain.
In the present study, .05 was accepted as the level of probability
at which significance is established. Relationships not achieving this
level were considered to be insignificant. Insignificant results were
In order to assist the reader to understand the differences
between the actual and the expected distributions of each table, both
have been given. In every table analyzed using chi square, the actual
distribution is given and, in parentheses in each cell of the table,
the expected distribution is shown. In addition, in many cases, a
table indicating the percentage of the total falling into each
category has been made available, to clarify the nature of the
relationship between the variables. In each table for which a chi-
square value was calculated, the chi-square value, degrees of freedom
(d.f.), and probability level (P= or P 0), is shown.
3. Demographic Characteristics
In the interest of space and clarity of data presentation,
all tables detailing the demographic data, rather than being included
here, ha'e been presented in an appendix.
The descriptions below represent summaries of the data
contained in these tables. The reader is invited to refer to Appendix
IV for more complete detail.
A. The Wives
The wives were found to be a relatively young group. Their
mean age was 29, with 65% of them being 30 years of age or younger,
and only 5% over 45. Seventy-eight percent were wives of the head
of the households in which they were living, 19% being related as
daughters-in-law. Fifteen percent of the wives had no children. Of
those thatdid, the majority, 67% had from one to three, 34% having
including those with zero children,was 2.5. For those women that
had at least one child, the average was 2.9. Forty percent of the
wives were married after 1970, and 62% after 1965. Only 10% were
married before 1956.
B. The Husbands
The husbands were also a young group, only slightly older
than their wives. Sixty-three percent were 35 years old or less,
with 40% of the sample ge 30 or below. Only 6% were over 45 years old.
A little over a third of these migrants, 36%, were reported as never
attending school. Sixty-two percent had some schooling; 11% having
gone up to standard 3; 30% having passed standard 4 to standard 6; and
18% having gone higher than standard 6. The great majority of the men,
84% ,were miners. Seven percent worked in construction and 5% in
factories. Those who were miners tended to wrk in gold mines, with
76% so employed. An additional 10% worked in coal mines and 6%, in
Of the miners, 7% worked above ground and 42% below. For
51%, the migrant's particular job in the mines was unknown by the
household respondent. For those migrants working in industries other
than mining, 20% were unskilled labourers in various industries, 25%
had other jobs in construction and 21% in factories. For thirty-
eight percent of the husbands the year they first began to work as a
migrant was not known. For those for whom the year was known, 48%
began working as migrants after 1965, and 68% after 1960. Nineteen
percent had their first migrant employment in 1955, or prior to that.
The total number of years worked in South Africa could not be calculated
for 51% of the men For those for which the number of years was
obtained, 60% had spent a total of one to ten years working in
South Africa, 78% had spent nne to 15, and 9% had worked over 20 years
C. The Households
In the households of the wives 53% contained one migrant
member, 33% had 2 and 15%, three or more. Sixty-six percent of the
households were comprised of 4 to 7 people, 16% of 2 to 3, and 18%
had 8 or more. Sixty percent of the households were located in the
lowlands of the country, 26% in the foothills and 14% in the mountains.
A male member of the household was described as being its head in 92%
of the cases, with a female indicated 8% of the time. A migrant worker
was identified as the household head in 82 percent of households, a
member who was not a migrant in 18 percent. The income of the household
was considered as inadequate by 66% of the households, 34% considering
its income adequate for living expenses. For the overwhelming majority
of the households, 90%, income was received only from migrants. Nine
percent had additional income sources.
4. Cross-tabulations of strain score with demographic variables
To determine which demographic characteristics relate
significantly with strain, a series of cross-tabulations between strain
score and the demographic variables were performed. Specific concern
was evidenced with identifying the characteristics of those wives
having high strain scores. For those readers interested in gaining an
overview of the findings of this section before progressing on to
the details, a summary of the results is presented below. The
relevant tables and text follows.
Wives with the following characteristics were found to be
likely to be experiencing high levels of strain;
Those over 25 years old. thosemuch older than this have an even
greater chance of having high strain. More than half of those wives
over 30 were found to have scores in the high range. )
Those who are the wives of the head of their households.
Those having 4 or more children.
Those married before 1966. Hose married before 1956, have
an increased chance of having a high strain score, with over 50% of
these wives found to have scores in this range. )
Those with husbands at least 26 years old. (Those with husbands
over 35 have an even greater chance of having a score in the high range. )
Those whose husbands started working as migrants before 1965.
(Those whose husbands started before 1956, have an even greater probability
of having a high strain score; more than half of these wives had a score
in the high range.)
Those whose husbands have worked as migrants for more than ten
years. (Those whose husbands have worked for more than twenty, have an
increased chance of having a high strain score, with over 50% of wives
in this group having high strain. )
Those whose household income is inadequate.
A. The .livesi characteristics
Table 1: \:ife's age by Strain Score Number
.n 20 or
less 21-25 26-30 31-40 41+ Total
Total 85 143 108 113 62 511
Chi square = 43.152 df=8 P (<.005
An association between these two variables is established, at
an extremely significant level of probability. In reference to the
table, an indication of the association of that relationship can
be gained. In the two youngest age groups, the number of wives having
a low strain score is greater than would be expected should there
be no relationship between the variables, and the number with high
strain scores is lower than expected. In the three older age groups,
the reverse is true; the numbers in the low category are less than
expected, and in the higher category, more than expected. Thus,
below the age of 26, fewer wives experience strain than expected,
while above that age, more experience strain than expected.
The following table clearly demonstrates this relationship.
It indicates the percentage distribution of scores for each age
group among the three strain score categories.
37 (23) 45 (39) 25 (30) 24 (31) 1i (18) 141
23 (29) 63 (49) 37 (37) 32 (38) 20 (21) 175
25 (33) 35 (55) 46 (41) 57 (43) 32 (24) 195
E 2 -5
Table 2: WivesiAge by Strain Score-Porcent
n 20 or
less 21-25 26-30 31-40 41+ Total
Total 100% 99 100 99 100 100
Looking across the low strain category, it becomes clear that
percentage decreases as age increases. In youngest group, 44% of the
wives fall into the low strain category. This steadily decreases
across the age groups, until in the oldest group only 16% fall into
that category. The situation is the reverse for the high strain
category, with a tendency for the percentage falling into this category
to increase with age. While the 2 youngest groups average 27% with
high scores, the oldest two average 51% with high scores. Once the
wife is over 25,the older she is the greater the likelihood that
she will be experiencing a high level of strain.
44% 31 23 21 16 28
27% 44 34 28 32 34
29% 24 43 50 52 38
2. Relationship to household head
Table 3: Wife's Relationship to Household Head by Strain Score
-- I. I -
168 (156) 27 (38) 4 (5) 199
Total 409 99 13
Chi square = 11.542
d.f. = 4 P < .05
99 99 100
Wives appear to experience high strain to a greater degree than
daughten-in-law or other relatives. In referring to the table, it can
be seen that fewer wives had a low strain score than expected, while
more had a score in the high range. The reverse was true for daughters-
in-law and other relatives. In terms of percentages, only 24% of the
wives had low strain scores, compared with 38% of the daughters-in-law
and 46% of the other relatives. Forty-one percent of the wives had high
scores, compared with 27% of the daughters-in-law and 31% of the other
41 27 31 38
3. Number of Children
Table 4: Number of Children by Strain Score
Number of Children Number of Children
0-1 2-3 4+ Total 0-1 2-3 4+ Total
Total 194 172 150 516 100 100 100 100
Chi Square = 17.95
d.f. =4 P :.005
At a very high degree of probability, there appears to be a
relationship between the strain a wive experiences and the number of
children she has. Looking at the table, it can be seen that more
women with 0 or 1 child have strain scores in the low category than would
be expected, and fewer than expected have scores in the high range.
Those with 2 or 3 children are more likely to have scores in the medium
range than would be expected, and less likely to have them in the high
range. The picture changes for those wives with four or more children.
Fewer of them fall into the 2 lower categories than would be expected,
and more appear in the high category. This trend can also be seen in
the table giving percent in which the percent of wives having low
scores decreases as the number of children they have increases. The
percent of those with high scores has a tendency to increase with more
65 (53) 47 (47) 30 (41) 142
63 (67) 70 (59) 44 (51) 177
66 (74) 55 (66) 76 (57) 197
34 27 20 28
32 41 29 34
34 32 51 38
having 2-3 children, who tend to be concentrated in the medium range
category. There is,therefore, a somewhat smaller percentage of this
group having high strain scores than in the group with 0-1 children.
Those wives having four or more children, however, can be clearly
seen to have anincreased likelihood of having high strain scores;
more than half of that group having scores in that range.
4. Year of Marriage
Table 5: Year of Marriage by Strain Score
Year of Marriage
Ia C;1 -
Total 50 138 114 160
Chi square = 26.674, d.f. = 8
ear of Marriage
-- J J -- d v -- f, I,-- J I I -w >
15 20 29 35 38 28
33 33 35 38 23 34
53 48 36 27 38 38
8 (15) 27 (38) 33 (31) 56 (44) 18 (13) 142
18 (19) 45 (46) 40 (39) 61 (54) 11 (16) 175
29 (21) 66 (52) 41 (44) 43 (61) 18 (18) 197
P < .001
The year the wives were married correlates at a very high
level of probability with strain, with those wives married for many
years having a greater probability of experiencing high levels of strain,
this can be seen in referring to the numbers table. More of the wives
married before 1966 have high strain scores than vould be expected, while fewer
have scores in the low range. For those married after 1965 the trend is
reversed,with more such wives having scores in the low category
than expected, and fewer having them in the high category. Looking at
the table detailing the percentage of each group falling into each
strain category clarifies the relationship between the two variables.
The percentage of wives having low strain scores steadily increases as
the marriage date becomes more recent. In the main, the reverse is
true for the percentage of wives with high scores,which tends to decrease
as the year of marriage is more recent. (An exception to this trend is
the most recent group, 76-77, which has a higher percentage in the high
strain category than do the grov.ps adjacent to it.) Over fifty percent of
the wives married before 1966 have scores in the high strain range.
B. The Husbands! Characteristics
Table 6; Husband's Age by Strain Score
Strain 2 25
Score or less 26-35 36+ Total or less 26-35 36+ Total
170 130 456 99 100 99 99
Chi square = 14.642
d.f.=4 P .01
55 (42) 46 (46) 23 (35) 124
55 (52) 54 (57) 44 (43) 153
46 (61) 70 (67) 63 (52) 179
35 27 17 27
35 32 34 33
29 41 48 39
The existence of a relationship between husband's age and
wife's strain is probable at a very high level. For those wives whose
husbands are under 26 years old, strain appears to be less than expected.
It can be seen that more of them have scores in the low category, and
fewer of them in the high category, than would be expected. For wives
with husbands aged 26-35, and especially for those with husbands over 35,
strain appears to be greater than expected, with more of them having
high strain scores than would be expected. The percentage table shows
the relationship between the variables quite clearly. The percent falling
into low strain category steadily decreases with age, while that in the
high strain category steadily increases with husbands age. Those wives
with older husbands have a greater likelihood of having a high strain
2. Year started woding as a migrant
Table 7: Year Husband Started Working as Migrant by Strain Score
56-65 66-70 71+ Total
1 c;A cEr-rs;
Chi square =
d.f. = 5
100 100 10-. 100
11 (16) 17 (28) 24 (28) 0 (19) 82
16 (22) 43 (38) 33 (28)24 (28) 116
33 (23) 45 (39) 19 (28)21 (28 111
18 16 32 40 26
27 41 43 32 37
55 43 25 28 37
The relationship between year the husband started working as
a migrant and the wife's strain score was established at an extremely
high level of probability, for those migrants for whom the year was
known. (For 38% of the husbands, this year was unknown, see Appendix,
Table A-11,) Those wives whose husbands started work before 1956, and
in 1956-65, had higher strain scores than would be expected. Those
whose husbands started working in the years 1966-1970 and after 1970
evidenced lower strain than would be expected.
The percentage table shows a steady increase in the percent falling
into the low strain category as the year becomes more recent, and a general
decrease in the percentage of those with high scores as the year becomes
more recent. An exception to this is the latest group, those husbands
starting after 1970, in which the percent in the high category is slightly
more than in the group previous to this, those starting in 66-70. The
increased likelihood of women whcse husbands started working as migrants
before 1966, and especially, before 1956 to be experiencing high levels of
strain, is clearly indicated.
3. Numbers of years worked as a migrant
Table 8: Number of Years Husband Worked as &Migrant by Strain Score
Number of Years Number of Years
Score 1-5 6-10 11-20 21+ Total 1-5 6-10 11-20 21+ Total
39 28 17 13 26
33 36 39 30 35
28 37 44 57 38
100 101 100 100 99
Chi sauare = 22.975 d.f.= 6
The number of years worked as a migrant refers to the number
of years the husband was actually away, with periods spent at home not
included. As might be expected, the relationship of this variable with
strain score, is shown to be similar to that of the previous variable,
year started worztig. (In this table also, for a large percentage, 51%,
the number of years was unknown, see Appendix Table A-12.) Referring
to the numbers table, it.can be seen that the wives those husbands were
away for the fewest years, 1-5, show less strain than would be expected,
with a greater number falling into the low strain category, and a
smaller number into the high category than would be expected. To a
lesser extent, this is also true for those whose husbands were absent for
6-10 years. In the next two groups, 11-20 and 21+, the direction has
changed. There are fewer scores in the low range than would be expected
and more in the high range. The wives whose husbands belong to these
two groups,thus, can be seen to be experiencing strain to a greater
degree than would be expected.
The percentage table clarifies the relationship between the
variables. The percent of wives with low strain scores steadily decreases
as the number of years their husbands have worked as migrants increases.
The percentage of those having high scores steadily increases as number
of years increases, until more than half of the wives whose husbands have
worked as migrants for over 20 years have scores in the high range.
4. Variables whose association with strain score was found to
For a number of variables describing the husbands, cross-tabulation
resulted in insignificant relationships with strain score being indicated.
These variables were: whether the husband had attended school; the
highest standard passed in school; the industry in which the migrant
wa employed; the type of mine in which the miner worked; and the
occupation of the migrant.
C. The Household Characteristics
1. Ecological Zone
Table 9: Ecological Zone by Strain Score
High L15 (118)
Foot- Moun- Total Low-
hills tains .land
95 (85) 40 (38) 9 (21) 144
99 (106) 48 (47) 31 (26) 178
A significant association was established between ecological
zone and strain score. The number table indicates that wives from the
lowlandE and the foothills experience less strain than would be expected,
while those living in the mountains experience more. The percent table
ahnwm +ha 1 nul and and mraiinn+in mvinin +n ho e f+4ovw m'i f4 in4 PhmTa Afnfi+4m i
group has substantially fewer wives with scores in the low range, only
12%, and more in the medium and high ranges, 41% and 47% respectively.
Those wives living in this zone can, thus be seen as having an increased
likelihood of having high levels of strain.
2. Adequacy of Income
Table 10: Adequacy of Household Income by Strain Score
63 ( 94)
80 (49) 143
Chli square = 69.257 d.f. = 1
Income Adequate ?
P 0 0005
Income Adequate ?
Score I.o Yes Total
Low 18 45 28
Medium 32 39 34
High 50 135 38
100 99 100
44 56 100
61 39 100
86 14 100
The other household variable that proved to have a significant
relationship with strain score was adequacy of income. At an extremely
high level of significance, more wives coming from households in which
income was inadequate were shown to have high strain scores than
were those from households with adequate incomes. The percentage tables,
given in both directions, help to clarify this. In the table on the
left, in which the percentage of no and yes scores that fall in each
strain category are shown, it is seen that whereas only 18% of those
wives whose households answered no to income adequacy had low scores,
45% from those answering yes did so. Referring to the high strain
category, a full 50% of wives in households with inadequate incomes
can be seen to be experiencing high levels of strain, compared with
only 15% of those in households with adequate incomes.
The table on the right shows horizonal percentages, that
is, how the wives in the 3 strain categories were distributed between
yes and no. For the low strain category, the majority of wives, 56%,
lived in households in which income was adequate. For the medium and
high strain categories, the majority lies in the opposite direction.
For those with medium range strain scores, 61% lived in households
with inadequate income and for those with high scores, the percentage
in inadequate income households climbs to a high 86%.
3. Household variables whose relationship with strain score
was not significant
The majority of household variables proved not to have
a significant relationship with strain score. These were: the number
of migrants per household; the total number of household members; the
sex of the household head; whether the household head was a migrant;and
whether the household depended solely on migrant remittances. An
additional cross-tabulation that was run, between adequacy of household
income and whether the income derived solely from migrant remittances,
also proved insignificant.
5. The Wives'Greatest Problems in their Husbands' Absence
Wives were asked their greatest problem in their husband's
absence and fbr the second greatest experienced in his absence.
The results are shown in Tables 11 and 12, following. It can be seen
in Table 11 that in terms of their greatest problem, a little under
a third, 30%0, of the wives felt they had no problems, slightly more
than a third, 37%,cited a problem related to fields and livestock,
and those remaining mentioned problems in other areas. Noticeable
among these were illness-and medical-care-related problems, 9%, and
lack of food problems, 6%. When asked for a second problem, half of
the wives did not feel that they had one. Of those who did cite a
problem, one fifth mentioned one that was agriculture-related and
the same proportion, one that was illness-related. As 75% of the wives
did not cite a problem when asked for a third one, the data from that
question was not included in the tables.
In looking at Table 12, in which only wives who cited a
problem are included, and those who answered "don't know or "no problem"
are excluded, the predominance of agriculture-related problems is
seen. For those wives citing a problem, 55% mentioned one related to
fields and livestock as their greatest concern, and 28% as their
second greatest concern. The importance of illness-related problems
as an additional area of difficulty also becomes clear.
Problems in this area were cited by 13% of the wives who
mentioned a greatest problem, and by 28% of those citing a second
problem, the same percent that mentioned one related to agriculture.
The data from the question asking for a third problem, not presented
in the tables, also point in the same direction. Although only 25%
of the wives gave a third problem, those who did cited agriculture
and illness as their most frequent problem areas. Each was
mentioned by 18 respondents, 29% of those giving a third response.
An additional point of interest is the concern shown for children's
health evident among the illness problems mentioned by the wives.
Table 11: Wives Problems ia Husbands'Absence
Problem related to:
Fields and Livestock
Care of Livestock
Illness, obtaning medical care
Other person, unspecified
as to person, in general
Hunger, lack of food, lack of
money for food
Poverty, lack of money,
sending of money by husband
Looking after family affairs
doing things with no husband
Wife misses husband
No Problems, Nothing
Don't know, No answers
164 31 31 6
28 5 24 5
192 37 55 10
21 4 33 6
13 2 5 1
12 2 16 3
46 9 54 10
29 6 16 3
17 3 6 1
13 2 6 1
15 3 10 2
5 1 7 1
34 6 39 7
158 30 70 13
16 3 262 50
525 99 (98)2
1 A third problem was asked, but as 75% of respondents .did not
give an answer, the data was not included in the table. The
main finding of interest from this question, was that agriculture
and illness were the 2 problem areas mentioned most frequently
by those citing a third problem. The same number of respondents,
18, mentioned each.
2 Totals differ depending on whether data from grouped or individual
categories is used.
Tah1P 1?: Wive.sIProblems A
percent of Problems Mentioned
Indicates which problems
wives citing a problem.
Problems related to:
mentioned most frequently by those
Fields and Livestock
Agriculture 47 16
Animals 8 12
Total 55 28
Illness, obtaining medical care
Children's 6 17
Self 4 3
Other 3 8
Total 13 28
Hunger, lack of food 8 8
Poverty, lack of money 5 3
Attacks, robbery 4 3
Family affairs 4 5
Mis3 Husband 1 4
Other 9 20
For the third question, in which only 25%, 62 wives, cited
a problem, problems relating to fields and livestock, and
to illness, eech accounted for 29% of those who gave a 3rd
--abl ,e 12 : W i ve . .. ... -- A .. .... .. ... ... ...... . .
6. Cross-tabulations with Wives'Greatest Problem
In order to better understand the problems experienced in
the husband's absence, especially those related to agriculture, two
cross-tabulations were done, with strain score and with age. For
these cross-tabulations the wives were divided into three roughly equal
groups according to their answers as to their greatest problem. The
first group cited an agriculture/livestock problem as being their
greatest concern, the second cited a problem in a different area, and
the third replied that they haci no problem. In summing up the results
of this section, it was found that those wives citing an agriculture-
related problem are most likely to have high scores and that the
likelihood of having an agriculture-related problem increases with
A. With Strain Score
Table 13: Greatest Problerm:Cross-tabulated with Strain Score
Chi square = 59,.39 d.f. = 4 P, .0005
28 (52) 33 (43) 76 (43) 137
72 (65) 52 (541' 49 (54) 173
92 (75) 73 (62) 33 (62) 198
15 21 48 27
38 33 31 34
48 46 21 39
- 110 -
WP 23 Return Migration from West European to Mediterranean Countries
by Han Entzinger, March 1978 (out of print)
WP 24 Possibilit4s de transfer d'emploi vers les pays d'4migration
en tant qu'alternative aux migrations internationales des
travailleurs: Le cas francais (I: E14ments introductifs)
par G. Tapinos, et al., April 1978
WP 25 Possibilit6s de transfer d'emploi vers les pays d'4migration
en tant qu'alternative aux migrations internationales des
travailleurs: Le cas francais (II: Etudes sectorielles)
par G. Tapinos, et.al., May 1978
WP 26 Possibilites de transfer d'emploi vers les pays d'4migration
en tant gu'alternative aux migrations internationales des
travailleurs: Le cas francais (III: Les pays de d6part et
par G. Tapinos, et al., May 1978
WP 27 Human Capital on the Nile: Development and Emigration in the
Arab Republic of Egypt and the Democratic Republic of the Sudan
by J.S. Birks and C.A. Sinclair, May 1978
WP 28 The Sultanate of Oman: Economic Development, the Domestic Labour
Market and International Migration
by J.S. Birks and C.A. Sinclair, June 1978
WP 29 Migration and Reintegration: Transferability of the Turkish
Model of Return Migration and Self-help Organisation to other
Mediterranean Labour-Exporting Countries
by M. Werth and N. Yalcintas, June 1978 (out of print)
WP 30 Nature and Process of Labour Importing: The Arabian Gulf States
of Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates
by J.S. Birks and C.A. Sinclair, August 1978
WP 31 Migrant Labour and Rural Homesteads: An Investigation into the
Sociological Dimensions of the Migrant Labour System in
by Beth D. Rosen-Prinz and Frederick A. Prinz
WP 32 LR-12: A Preliminary Simulation Model of the Effects of Declining
Migration to South Africa on Households in Botswana
by William M. Woods, September 1978
WP 33G Befragung Jugoslawischer Haushalte in der Bundesrepublik Deutsch-
by C. Bock and F. Tiedt, September 1978
WP 34 Elements of a Theory of International Migration and Compensation
by W.R. Bbhning, November 1978
WP 35 The Women Left Behind: A Study of the Wives of the Migrant
Workers of Lesotho
by Elizabeth Gordon, December 1978
WP 14 Transfert d'emplois vers les pays qui disposent d'un surplus
de main d'oeuvre comme alternative aux migrations internatio-
nales: Le oas de la Suisse (III) Le comportement de l'entre-
preneur face la pinurie de main-d'oeuvre: R4sultats d'une
enqubte par questionnaire
par C. Jeanrenaud, D. Maillat et J.-Ph. Wider, September 1977
(out of print)
summary published under the title "Reactions of Swiss employers
to the immigration freeze", in International Labour Review,
Vol. 117, No. 6 (November-December 1978, pp. 735-745; also in
French and Spanish.
VP 15 A Preliminary Assessment of Labour Movement in the Arab Region:
Background, Perspectives and Prospects
by J.S. Birks and C.A. Sinclair, October 1977 (out of print)
VP 16 Foreign Migrant Labour in Southern Africa: Studies on Accumula-
tion in the Labour Reserves, Demand Determinants and Supply
by D.G. Clarke, November 1977 (out of print)
"Accumulation and Migrant Labour Supply in the Labour Reserve
Economies of Southern Africa", pp. 1-40
"Some Determinants of Demand for Foreign African Labour in
South Africa", pp. 41-78
"Foreign African Labour and the Internalisation of Labour
Reserves in South Africa, 1970-77", pp. 79-130.
WP 17 Bureaucracy and Labour Migration: The Lesotho Case
by Malcolm Wallis, November 1977
WP 18E Compensating Countries of Origin for the Out-Migration of Their
by W.R. BBhning, December 1977 (out of print)
VP 18F Comment d6dommager les pays d'origine des migrants?
par W.R. Bbhning, December 1977
VP 19 The State and Labour Migration in the South African Political
Economy, With Particular Respect to Gold Mining
by John Bardill, Roger Southall and Charles Perrings, December
WP 20 International Labour Supply Trends and Economic Structure in
Southern Rhodesia/Zimbabwe in the 1970s
by D.G. Clarke, January 1978 (out of print)
WP 21 Regulating International Migration in the Interest of the De-
veloping Countries: With Particular Reference to Mediterranean
by Klaus H. Hbpfner and Maria Huber, February 1978 (out of print)
WP 22 Migrant Labour in Swaziland: Characteristics, Attitudes and Policy
by Pion de Vletter, February 1978 (out of print)
- 108 -
"Return Migrants' Contribution to the Development Process
The Issues Involved", pp. 23-58;
"Migration and Policy: A Rejoinder to Keith Griffin", pp. 39-50;
"The Migration of Workers from Poor to Rich Countries: Facts,
Problems, Policies", pp. 51-70;
the latter paper has been published in IUSSP, ed., International
Population Conference, Mexico, 1977, Vol. 2 (Liege, 1977), PP.
WP 7 Transfer of Employment Opportunities as an Alternative to the
International Migration of Workers: The Case of the Federal
Republic of Germany (1)*
by U. Hiemenz and K.-W. Schatz, August 1976;
parts published in German, "Internationale Arbeitsteilung als
Alternative zur Auslanderbeschaftigung Der Fall der Bundes-
republik Deutschland", Die Weltwirtschaft, No. 1/1977, pp. 35-58.
WP 8 Transfert d'emplois vers les pays qui disposent d'un surplus de
main d'oeuvre comme alternative aux migrations internationales:
Le cas de la Suisse (II) (out of print)
par D. Maillat, C. Jeanrenaud, J-Ph. Widmer, January 1977;
summary published under the title "Transfert d'emplois et d6s-
6quilibres r6gionaux", in P. Caroni, B. Dafflon and G. Enderle, eds.,
Nur Oekonomie ist keine Oekonomie (Bern, Haupt, 1978), pp. 287-503.
WP 9 Transfer of Employment Opportunities as an Alternative to the
International Migration of Workers: The Case of Spain and Turkey
vis-a-vis the Federal Republic of Germany (II)*
by U. Hiemenz and K.-W. Schatz, April 1977
WP 10 Black Migration to South Africa What Are the Issues?
by W.R. Bohning, June 1977 (out of print)
WP 11 Labour Export in Southern Africa: Some Welfare and Policy Implica-
tions with Regard to a Joint Policy on Recruitment Fees
by Charles W. Stahl, July 1977
WP 12 Swaziland Labour Migration Some Implications for a National
by M.H. Doran, August 1977 (out of print)
WP 13 Migration and Agricultural Development in Swaziland: A Micro-
by A.R.C. Low, August 1977 (out of print)
Issued as an ILO book under the title Trade in Place of Migration:
An Employment-Oriented Study with Special Reference to the Federal
Republic of Germany, Spain and Turkey, by U. Hiemenz and K.-V. Schatz
(Geneva, 1978). Available from booksellers, ILO offices in many
countries or direct from ILO Publications (17.50 Swiss frs. limp cover,
27,50 Swiss frs. hard cover); also in Spanish.
- 107 -
MIGRATION FOR EMPLOYMENT PROJECT : WORKING PAPERS
WP 1 Basic Aspects of Immigration and Return Migration in Western
by W.R. Bbhning, July 1975 (out of print, reprinted as part
of WP 6, see below)
"Determinants of Labour Immigration in Industrialised
Countries of Western Europe", pp. 5-23;
"Return Migrants' Contribution to the Development Process
The issues Involved", pp. 24-58.
WP 2 Mediterranean Workers in Western Europe: Effects on Home Countries
and Countries of Employment*
by W.R. B'hning, September 1975 (out of print);
published in German, "Arbeitnehmer aus Mittelmeerlandern in
Westeuropa: Virkungen auf Heimat- und Empfangslander", in
R. Regul, ed., Die Europaischen Gemeinschaften und die Mittel-
meerlander (Baden-Baden, Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft, 1977),
also available in Serbo-Croat in "Inostrana Iskustva i Prevodi",
Bilten, Vol. 19, No. 44, 1976, pp. 25-71.
WP 5 International Migration in Southern Africa
by Francis Wilson, November 1975 (reprint April 1976);
published in International Migration Review, Vol. X, No. 4
(Winter 1976), pp. 451-488;
also available as SALDRU Working Paper No. 1, Southern Africa
Labour and Development Research Unit, Cape Town, May 1976.
WP 4 Future Demand for Migrant Workers in Western Europe
by W.R. B6hning, January 1976; (out of print);
also available in Serbo-Croat in "Inostrana Iskustva i Prevodi",
Bilten, Vol. 19, No. 44, 1976, pp. 1-24.
VP 5 Transfert d'emplois vers les pays aui disposent d'un surplus de
main-d'oeuvre comme alternative aux migrations internationales:
Le cas de la Suisse (I)
par D. Maillat, C. Jeanrenaud et J.-Ph. Widmer, Mai 1976
(reprint October 1976).
Summary published in Studi Emigrazione/Etudes Migrations, Vol. XV,
No. 51 (September 1978), pp. 361-581. *
WP 6 Basic Aspects of Migration from Poor to Rich Countries: Facts,
by W.R. BBhning, July 1976 (out of print)
"Determinants of Labour Immigration in Industrialised Countries
of Western Europe", pp. 5-23;
* Much of this paper has been worked into W.R. BBhning, "Migration from
Developing to High-Income Countries", in ILO Tripartite World Conference
on Employment, Income Distribution and Social Progress and the International
Division of Labour, Background Papers, Vol. II: International Strategies
for Employment, Geneva, 1976, which may be obtained through major book-
Table A-10: Whother the Household Depends Solely on Mlirrants
Remittances for -ts Inc---;
Yes 468 90
No ,49 9
Unknown 4 1
- -105 -
Table A-I1. Sex of Household Head
Male _7_ -
Table IA--17: IWhether the Househhld Head is a "iinrant
No i 93
Table A-18:Is the household income adequate to meet its living expenses?
II-- ----~-- I--------
- 104 -
3. Household Charactoristics
As the househol-! charactf-istics wore determinedt through cross-tabulations
with the strain scores of the wives, they do not include information
on the households of the four wives for whom strain score was not computed.
The total number in each tale is therefore 521, and not 525.
Table A-13: .umber of ,inrrants in the Househnol
1 7" | 53
2 170 i 33
3 or more 77 15
-.--- - ____________________ ____ -- .-- .-- .-- --- --- --
Total 521 101
Table A 1!' Total )!umIher in Household
2-3 |1 l
4-5 1I3 35
- -------- i.---.. -...........----- ---- -
6-7 ii1 31
8-9 -- 12
10 or more 3?
Total 521 1n
Table A-15: Ec.lo3ical Zone
Lowlands 309 60
Foothills i 137 26
fountains 75 14
Total 521 "
- 103 -
Table A-11: Year Husband First 'orke,' as Miqrant
1950 or before
percentt of Total
unknown (N = 316)
41 A 13
6, 12 2"
76 15 2!
7 i 14 22
5 1 2
Unknown 17 i 38 -
Total 513 1I
Table A-12: Total Number of Years Husband Worked as a Migrant
Number Percent Percent excluding
unknown (N = 251)
1-5 i 75 15 i30
.-1 7. 15 30
11-15 F 0 18
16-21 31 6 12
21+ 23 4 9
Unknown 262 51 .
Total 513 10 2o
J, i ....
- 102 -
Unideroround 1 ? 35 .2
\)overround 32 6 7
'mm '- -
Workers 19 4 25
Factory Workerf2 16 3 21
Labourers 15 3 20
ITTi-rs I l 15
Unknown 14 3 19
Total 75 100
1. The respondent knew only that the man was a miner
hut not his
2. Includes workers in this industry other than labourers, supervisors,
security quiar- s and drivers, who were classified senrrately.
... .. ... .. To a i -a t
- 101 -
Ta!ale -: Industry of V:usf-lnJ's Emrnovyment
'____i __ r recentt
Winin- 430 84
i- -"-- -.---- ........
i Construction 3' I 7
I Manufacturing q7 5
Othcr 13 3
okV--- .- - --
Don't know 2
Tctal 513 101
Ta: le : T- f 7ie' in !,ic' Fm'love iners ,nlv
Go i- 334 : 76
4. -- -~- -__ ---
Coal 42 i 10
Platinum 26 6
-ts .-stos 6 1
Diamon 3 1
Don t know 27 6
To tal 4 1 "
- 100 -
Table A-1: Husband's Education: School Attendance
Di' he attend! school?
No 16 .. i 36
Yes 318 62
Don't know 0
Total 513 1l
J _____ ._____\-------
Table A-7: Husban-d's Education: Highest Standard Passoe
i.unmer Percent of Total P
ISTD 4-C 153
Form A-i 9?
Don't kncw 26
recentt of those
ivin( some schooling'
! = 323)
.... . . "-
1 ") 1 )n
- 99 -
Table .-4: Year of MFarriane
1950 or before
i- t- -
56-M0 70 13
61 .-5 70 13
Pf-70 114 22
71-75 V 12 _31
unknown 9 2
Total 525 1jI
x (usin,' raw data) = 66
2. Husband's Characteristics
Table A-5: Husband's Age
number Percent of Total
<1 6 1
i1r2 S5 10
21-25 100 19 -
26-30 93 18
31-35 77 15
3'-40 56 11
41-l5 37 7
1 -5-- -17
over M 2
,unknown 57 11
Total 513 .8
median rroun is 31-35
Modal oroun is 21-25
Percent of Total
Table A-2: Wife's Relationshin to Household Head
She is HH head
Percent of Total
Table A-3: Mumher of Children
0 i 70
____ I _
Percent of Total
Percent of those
that have children
(N = 441)
+ 44 8 10
unknown 5 1
Total 525 Inn 101
x = 2.5
x = 2,9 of those who have children.
8. The problems you meet in reward to your children
would be reduced if your husband could he home
all the time? Yes
9. You are satisfied with the part your husband nlays
in taking care of the family fields and/or
10. Your children miss their father when he is away? Yes
Appendix IV: Tables of Demoqraphic Data
1. Wives Characteristics
Table A-l: Iife's Aoe
Number Percent of Total
below Ir 4
16-20 81 I 15
21-25 1f5 2
26-30 I08 21
31"35 __3 12
36- 0 51
51-55 8 2
56-60 6 1
over 60 i 2 0
-- -r------4 --__-.---- -- .--
unknown 11 2
Total 525 101
X = 29
median group = 2r-30
modal group = 21-25
- 96 -
Appendix III: The Strain Score Questions
A wife's strain score was determined hy her responses to the ten
questions :elow. One point was oiven for answcrina each question as
indicated. The number of points so accumulated was put over the total
number of o'lestions, out of the ten, that were answer- with a yes or a
no. Questions for whom the rasoonse was don't know, no answer, or question
not relevant, were not included in the calculation, either in the numerator
or the denominator. The resultant fraction was channel to a decimal, to
obtain the score. Strain score this ranged from 0, lowest possible strain
score, in which no question was answered in a direction indicating strain,
to 100, highest possible strain score, in which all questions answered were
answered in the direction indicating strain.
The Strain Score questions Strain
1. Do you ever worry about the .nneral welfare of your
On the whole do you feel that:
2. When your husband is awav, ycu have too many family
3. You are satisfied with the amount rf money vour
husband senIs home? ;o
4. You would lead a much happier life if your husband
could "e home more often? Yes
5. Your husband visits home often enough from his place
of work? No
-. Your husband carries out all his resnonsi!ilities towards
his children? No
7. You enjoy the independence you get when your husband is
The Survey Sites
The study was conducted in the following 14
areas of Lesotho.
Mode of Access
1. The Mountain Sites
2. The Foothill Sites
2 1 3
3. The Lowland Sites
INFORMATION ON HOUSEHOLD MEMBERS
(Include all members whether present or absent, including members working outside Lesotho)
Relationship Sex Age Marital Whether If away, IReason for Occupation Industry
to Status now country staying
household living where elsewhere
head with the now
0 0 r 0 0 0 0
00 00 0 0
0 a 0 1
*oo*o*oo e oooo
ooe o oo ooe o
00 00.0000 0000
0oo oo coooo
**** **** ****
e-o eo e
0 e a a
o 6 .
. a 0 0
.oo ooo. oo.o..ooooo
'000 00000000. eo00
**a0o0 o o o 00000
Voo 0000oooao00 ooooo 0oo 00
,000 0000 0000 00$
oo O o Oa 0 .
oo0 a 0 0
O 1 oeo o 0 co
ooo o. o L a oo .e...ooecooe s
000000. O .OOOOO.. O..O.....o...
0.0.000.0....a...... 00 ..0......
0ooooo o0 00 0 ooooo oooo1 ocoo e 0000
0000D00000ka 0 0000000 0 00 o0000000. 0
0 o o a 0**** 0 00 00 0**0a**0 0 *a*** a**0*
Total Number in Household
Total Number 18 or older
Total Number under 18
28. In which town or place in South Africa does/did he/she
have his/her recent job?
29. What is/was his/her occupation? State in full and de-
scribe the work he/she does/did in South Africa:
000o 0000o 0000000000CC .oo oooooooooooaoo *ooooooooooo000
0 00000 @a000 0a0000000000 000000a0000a000a000 C!aOaa*o*0
00o0o00000oooooooCOO C 0ooooooooCoooo ooo ooo0 ooDo fCooo 0.
30. In general, what type of activities is/was done where
he/she works/worked? Please explain (IF MINING
INDUSTRY, INQUIRE AND STATE MINERAL INVOLVED)
a00000 000000aac 000a00 o ,oooaa ace 000 000000000e0aaa0 00
@0 a a a a 0 0oa00000aoDCC caG aoo 000a0 oa 0000a 000 0a00 00a00 0 a a0 a a
25. Does he/she have any technical skill (such as carpentry,
motor mechanics, and so on)?
No -7 -- Q. 26
Do not know / Q. 26
(a) (IF YES) (i) What technical skill is it? Please
o0000000000000 0 0o0a..0 0000oo00000
(ii) Was that skill obtained through
formal training, on-the-job training,
or another method?
Formal training /~7--f Q. 25(a)(iii)
On-the-job training /-7-- Q. 25(a)(iv)
Other method / -- Q. 26
(iii) (IF FORMAL TRAINING) From which
institution/school did he/she obtain
it, and in what year?
Country(or place) ................
Year .......,.... ..... ... ... .....
(iv) (IF ON-THE-JOB TRAINING) Where did
he/she obtain the training, and in what
Country(or place) ...0.............
26. In what year did he/she first start working as a migrant
in South Africa?
27. Could you estimate the number of years he/she actually
spent working as a migrant in South Africa (excluding the
time he/she spent at home)?
00o. 0 0.. 0.....0...........0.0.0 0 ...0 (number of years)
- 91 -
DEMOGRAPHIC DATA ON MIGRANT'
NOTE: SECTION iS TO BE USED ONLY WHEN THE MIGRANT
IS AWAY FROIC TTO, ME AT THE TIME OF INTERVIEW
21. How old is he/she? (IF AGE IS UNKNOWN OR "EVENT"IS
GIVEN, TRY TO ESTIMTaTE)
23. Is he
24. Has h
000000000000a00000 a0000 a00 000000000 a@.000...
/she (a) married / 7
(b) single / 7
(c) widowed /-7
(d) divorced /
e/she ever attended school?
No /7-- Q. 25
Do not know ---_ Q. 25
(IF YES) What is the highest standard he/she passed,
and in what year?
Highest standard passed ..............
Year passed ................ 00........0
Attended but never passed Std. 1 (grade A)
(m) you are/were satisfied with the part
your husband plays/played in taking
care of the family fields or livestock?
(n) your children miss/missed their father
when he is/was away?
If no fields or
If no children
(e) you would lead a much happier life if -
your husband could be (could have been) home
much more often than is/was the case
(f) your husband visits/visited home often
enough from his place of work?
(g) your husband carries/carried all his
responsibilities towards his children?
(h) you enjoy the independence you get/got
when your husband is/was away?
(i) as long as there are male adults related
to the family to help raise the children,
it does not matter whether their (children's)
father is present or not?
(j) when your husband is/was away you are/wore
the one making important decisions concerning
the family ?
(k) when your husband is/was away, the family
fields or livestock are/were your responsir
(1) the problems you meet/met with regard to your
children would be(or would have been) reduced
if your husband could (or could have been)
home all the time?
If no children
If no fields or livestock
If no children
(FOR QUESTIONS 37 & 38 CIRCLE THE NUMBER THAT CORRESPONDS TO THE GIVEN RESPONSE OR SITUATION)
37. Do you ever worry about;
(a) being able to feed yourself and your
(b) being able to buy clothes for yourself and
(c) paying for your children's school fees?
(d) your children's future?
(e) being able to raise your children well?
(f) the general welfare of your family?
38. On the whole, do/did you ever feel that:
(a) when your husband is/was away, you hove/
had too many family responsibilities?
(b) it is important for a father to help
bring up his children?
(c) even when your husband is/was away he still
continues/continued to make important
decisions concerning the family?
(d) you are/were satisfied with the amount of
money your husband sends/sent home?
Yes No No children
- 87 -
34. How often does/did your husband visit home?
35. Would you like (have liked) it to be possible for
you (or you and your children) to go and live with
your husband at his place of work?
56. If your husband was offered a job here in Lesotho with
the same pay as he is now getting (or was getting)
in his work as a migrant, would you like him to accept
Yes /7 -- Q. 36 (a)
No / Q. 36 (b)
(a) Why would you like him to accept it?
(b) Why would you not like him to accept it?
0a00aaa0 a0 0 a a U 0 0 0 a10 0000 0 0 000aaaa0 0 00 0 a 0 0 0a 00 aaa0aa0 00a000
- 86 -
MIGRANTS' WIVES INTERVIEW
Respondents for this section must be wives of migrants only.
Note: This section must be used only when the migrant is
absent from home, that is, when he is away in
I i I l 7 i
Survey Area No. Int'wer IoD.No. H/h No. Husband's thamore
migrant one wife)
No. Wife No.
Name of migrant's wife ...........,................
31. What is/was the grave3t problem you experienced)
here at home as a result of your husband's absence?
a** *0*0 a*0 00 a aa *a*0*a*oaaoaeaa0 o a Oaan.aa0o n O0 a0
(a) What else is/was a problem?
(b) What else?
52. How many children do you have?
(a) How many of them live with you here at home?
no.. ooooooo0nooooooo000 co0ooooo00000000000000000
33. When last did you see your husband? (ASK FOR MONTH &
0000000a00 aa&a00 000000000000000 00000000a0a0a0aa000 a
Appendix 1: SurvZ-y Instruments
1. The irqrants' lives Interview ................................. 86
2. Demographic Data on the finrant ................................. 91
3. Information on th~e Ha~usehold lelew~ers. ...,..........,.. ... ....,....... 94
There exists a ro'lFp'- n Lesostho, one that is larnelv unrecognized,
and for which no provision has een m-2e. This problem involves the plight
of the wives of the mi-rant workers of the countrv, the women left behind.
These women, lar.elv ignored bv any current policy are in a difficult
position. Left behind to tak-' care of family an1 ronertv, lacking' both
the resources an-' thL wxnertise that woul'. enar!'lZ thom to dcal comfortably
with these rcsonnsi'ilities, thoy. are con!emned to lead lives of diminshing
These wives have few: ruarantoes as to thiir future. 'hen and if they
will see th-ir hus'ancs -.'ain, what -ffects th-P continued separation will
prove to hav2 on their lives, are all largolv unknown. There is little
they can call upon for assistance in slowing tWxir progress towards increasing
difficulty as th, yoars go on. The wives' major resource, an able-bolied
man, is not available to them, having been invested in the very system
with which they are grappling.
The need is clearly pr-esing to h gin cnnsid-ring those w,,omen and
their families. Usino t:;\" insights gained in this study, attention should
focus on their nliqht, an: m,-.asur-s hi -1:'vlol':d for its alleviation.
Fully suLsidised! visits between husl!and a'nd wife, in
hoth directions, at frerunent intorvwls.
Investigation of t1e possibility of some of the wives
iivin. with their husbands at work. A significant number
cf wives exnrcsseo an interest in this, especially those
wives experiencing hi'nh levels of str-iin. The feasibility
of this prnrosal should i.c exnlcre '.
Develo ment of an agency thb.t would d serve to facilitate
contact '.etween sproses. This project mirht involve a
system of .age "its 1isrrcrsed throughout the country, acting
as go-.'rtweons for w'ivcs at horn r~an- men at wnrk. These
agents wold keep in contact with wives, make visits to
the men's places of work and, in 'oneral, facilitate the
fl-wv of information and concerns in foth directions.
It should be stressed' that pro'-,a-ly th, !'est way tn effect an imnrovemcnt
in the lives nf the :Aives in this resnect would be :.n hrinn their men hack
to Lesotho, with adequately pa.yinc jobs in their hone areas. The wives them-,
selves overwhelmingly favored the idea of their husb:'nr's iP-rking in Lesotho.
The suqnestion to .'ring the migrants home chviously dVes not represent a new
insight into the nr:'Alem of laour migration in .csotho, hut rather one
that is understood to he the country's rroforrc! course of develonnment from
The consensus on this point is clear, the difficult comes with finding
viable ways to implement this course of action. A frotnote can he added
to the arguments which stress the importance of continuing to work towards
this. This study, like others beforee it, provides evidence of the need to
encourage efforts to develop .ino' j '-nomrtunities within Lesotho, so that the
mirirants can '-e 'rounht home ancd -rovi.e1! .-'ith work.
virtually endless but some ideas as to this follow. Some of these have
!'een included above under other suenestion areas.
Improvement of transportation and communication services
linking the parts of the country. R.tter roads, public
transportation, telephone and! radio communication minht
all profitably be considered.
The development of 'better education and health services.
Emphasis might be placed on adult retraining and vocational
courses, upgrading schools and improved access to existing
Creation of a system of welfare services to serve as
a resource for all, both preventative and when.an
individual or family is confronted with difficulties
of varying kinds.
Improvement in the food system of Lesotho to enable
more nutritious food to he made widely available at the
lowest possible cost.
4. M!itinatino the effects of lone exposure to
labour migration The research findings
indicated that the longer her exposure to labour mlnration, the more likely
a wife is to fall into difficulty. In the lioht of this, nrnvision for
mitinatine the effects of the lone absences of the hust-ands mioht be
considered. Possibilities include,
1. See Slater, CHarles, et. al., An Exnloratorv -Study of the Food System of
Lesotho: A Report to the Lesotho 0Food and Nutrition Council. May, 1977,
restricted, Chapter V for recommendations as to how the performance of the
food system of Lesotho may he enhanced.
2. Increased financial resources Increasing
the amount of money a wife nias available to cir. for her family would serve
as an obvious way t, ease her iositin The following nronosals minht
help to realize this:
Programs aimedr at increasing the money--arning
onportuniti's of women, through teaching them skills
an!i marketing techniques. Cottage industries minht be
Proposals to help the wives obtain a larger share of
migrant earnings. These Lmiht include modification of
Dresent remittance and deferrelI ray regulations to
facilitate an increase in th? amount and regularity
of rei'ittances from migrants, measures to enforce the
existing laws pertainini to !abandoned wives to assist
unsupported wives to oain sunort, and the development
of a state allowance for migrant workers' wives.
3. Imrrovaem-nt o- the infrastructure of goods in
Lesotho The wives nf the migrant workers do
not live in a vacuum. Rather, thr ioods and services unon which they draw
for support are those available to the co:untrv as a whole. Therefore,
improving the infrastructure of goods and services woill1 increase the
resources available to these wives. Such imr-rnvement would especially
be desirable in renard to the mountain region of the country,which is least
blessed with amenities at present. The list of nossihle improvements is
1. See Gordon, Elizabeth, "The Families Left nehin-d: Procsals for Easinn
the Plinht of Minrant workers' Families in Lesotho". National University
of Lesotho, April, 1971 for detailed proposals as to this.
discussed below. Assistinc the wife with agricultural management, which
would serve to heli the wife with her responsibilities in this area, will
not be included, as it was discussed above.
1. IncreaseA support for families with children -
One of the areas of increased responsibility of the hinh strain wives was
that of child rearing. Assisting women to 'jrini un their children,
providing additional resources for children, both financial and other,
and helping to prevent unwanted increases in this area of responsibility,
miht prove effective in easing the burden on the wives. Specific programs
Extension of birth control nronrams so that every
interest( woman would have access. at nominal cost.
This is one of the faw possibilities available for
actually preventing an increase in responsibilities.
Assistance with financial support of children. This
micht entail the development of a government system of
child allowances providing regular support to families
General improvement in facilities for children in the
country. Included minht hb improving schools and making
them totally frne of charge, increasing food aid for
children, instituting screening programs to discern mental
an'J physical handic-as at early ages and the development
of adequate facilities for treating and rehabilitating
children with handicaps.
2. Imp movement of medical services Illness
and access to medical facilities figured strongly as tho wives' second area
of concern. 'Iays to better meot their neels in this respect could be
considered. Amonn the possibilities .re:
First aid courses to enable wives to become more competent
in emergencies an-d to judge more accurately when further medical
treatment is required. This might be especially appropriate
for isolated areas of the country.
Strengthening the country's network of medical services.
The aim of this would b'e to facilitate access to services so
that everyone could reach some medical facility without undue
difficulty. Included miqht he the provision of a regular trans-
nortation service to medical facilities in areas without local
facilities, increasing the, number rf villane-based facilities,
and the development of a system of physicians' assistants to
serve as a resource in areas in which a doctor cannot be placed.
B. Sur'estions inspired by the factors distinguishing
the wives in difficulty
The findings as to the factors distinguishing the
wives experiencing high strain suggested a number of areas in which pro-
grams might profitable, be developed. These factors increased resnonsihilities
fewer resources, longer exposure to labour migration, and greater desire
to live with husbands--led to consideration as to how their impact could
be prevented or mitigated. A number of nossibilites for this will be
There are two grouos of findings from the study that
offer the most fruitful orounls for such speculation. The first is the
problems the wives felt to be their most difficult in their husbands'
absence, the second is the factors that distinguish the wives exnerioncinn
A. Suggestions arising out of the wives greatest problems
1. Assistance with a riculturc A!riculture was
found to be clearly the most frequently cited problem area for the wives.
Management of fields an,' livestock appears to be of especial concern for
these women, one that is felt as a heavy responsibility. Projects directed
towards easing the wives' burden in this respect should be explored.
Possible projects in this area might include:
Attempts to involve the husbands mnre
directly in the management of fields and
livestock. Subsidised home leaves for
migrants during critical points in the
agricultural cycles could be considered.
Courses in agricultural mananen'nt for
women, to increase: their confidence and
capability in this area.
Increasing government support of agricul-
tural activities. This might encompass both
making expert advice available from extension
workers and providing necessary supplies
program aimed at the entire population of concern from the beginning.
Such a program micht be broken down into states, according to
geographical areas, but at each area the attempt would he to reach all
who might hbnefit, with the same priority and annlicatinn of the same
standards for receiving assistance. This annroach has the advantage of
serving the potentiaTly greatest preventative function of the three, in
that wives not in severe difficulty have enual access and receive assis-
tance to the same degree as others. Its disadvantane lies in the
opposite direction; such an approach-does not give priority to the needs
of those in severe circumstances and mirht not meet them to the same
degree as the previous types of programs.
It is anticipated that an effective strategy would involve oronrams
of these and other types, each carefully selected as beinn ootimally
suitable for specific program qoals. A ranqe of interventions is
available and should be called uon to provide the most effective means
of achieving real improvements in the lives of the migrants' wives.
2. Suggestions for areas of program development
The major noal of this study was exploratory, to develop
a better understanding of the lives of the migrant wives. Mo previous
investigation into this area existed. The study was, therefore, not
directed towards developing detailed and precise rronram recommendations.
The findings, however, can he used to suggest general areas in which
programs could be developed. Definitive policy recommendations based
on these suggestions would require further study as to their feasibility
Such programs minht he on a short-term emergency basis. The advantage to
this type of program lies in the directiveness with which it can deal with
a severe problem; its drawback is that it reaches only those with this
problem and so serves no preventive function.
Another type of nronram that minht be implemented, reflecting the
duality of the overall noal, would involve provision for the wives in
difficulty as the first priority, followc!d by a consideration of the remaining
population of women. Such a program minht be implemented in states planned
to first reach those in difficulty an-' later others who minht benefit,
or miqht make provision for all from the initial states but provide special
incentives or increased benefits to those in more difficult circumstances.
This approach has the advantage of makinco revision for both those in
need and those not in difficult circumstances, but may also be disadvan-
tageous in certain respects. It can be less efficient than an approach
in which the entire population of concern is planned for without differen-
tiation. Publication of effort can !e made necessary, in which separate
efforts to reach the rro'ram's clients have to be made at the different
states of implementation. Also, in a *hased program, there may be a tendency
never to get beyond the initial target orour stane. Once camnainns to
reach the nroup experiencing the greatest difficulty have ended, the enthusiasm
for a program may dwindle. It may prove difficult to .ustify the continuation
of a program to reach those in comparatively comfortable circumstances and
the necessary resources may be diverted to other purposes. Once anain, the
preventative aspect would be lost.
Hith these drawbacks in mind, it minht be considered most effective
and least inefficient, in some situations to develop a comprehensive
strain is one with possible implications for program development. A
target groun approach minht, accordingly, involve oror;rams directed
towards assisting larne families. Possible projects might include a
birth control profjram aimed at mothers of many children, or a child allow-
ance program that provided financial assistance to larqe families.
The dual goal approach, however, takes into account the fact that although
wives with many children tend to Lo in difficulty their progress to that
position was gradual. The conclusion might, therefore,he reached that,
if families were assisted from the Lirth of their first child, or even
before, they might be able to avoid experiencing similar difficulty
should their number be increased, Any rronrams develo'ied would make
provision for this. Family planning information would 'e maie available
to all women, not just those within many chil''ren, and child allowances
would heln to sunrort families from their first child on.
C. The need to utilize a variety of tynes of oro'rams
A numl-r of different types of nrnrams woull conceivablv be
utilized in workin- towards this dual ooal. Rather than one type being
selected on an a Driori basis as that hest suited to meet the needs
of the migrant wives, it is suggested that a range of types, each
selected to suit specific circumstances, would prove ontimal. The
specific program to be developed in each case would he decided only
after consideration of a number of factors; its specific objectives, the
service it is to provide, the resources available, and the noiulation
that could conceivably benefit. Also entering into this decision would
be the advantages and disadvantages inherent in each approach.
Keepino the dual ioal in mind, programs specifically planned
to reach wives in difficulty mioht be developed in situations in which
it was felt that a severe problem demanded immediate and direct relief.
With greater experience, they stand an ever-increasing chance
of finding themselves in significant trouble. That is, should
the criteria for eligibility for assistance from program be
based on the known characteristics of the wives in difficulty,
a wife might have to have four children, or a husband away
Sfor at least ten years, before she could qualify. By the time
she did so, however, she would be likely to have reached the
point where the strain she is experiencing has reached high levels.
The ranks of the wives in difficulty would be thereby constantly
replenished through such a strategy and the future clients for
any target group programs assured.
In the present situation, therefore, although a
concentration on assisting the wives in'difficulty is likely
to effect an improvement in these particular men's lives, it
is doubtful whether, if followed exclusively, it would serve the
Improvement in the lives of the migrant workers wives in Lesotho,
must ultimately involve changing the process by which
wives get into difficulty.
The probability that those wives not in difficulty will reach
that point in the future must be diminished. Only then will
the current cycle be broken and lasting improvement in the lives
of the migrant wives, current and future, have been achieved,
B. The need for a planning strategy that embracesa dual goal
It is suggested,therefore, that an effective planning
strategy in the present situation involves a dual goal. While
keeping in mind the problems of the group now in difficulty,
the eventual ones of the wives not presently in dire straits
must also be considered. In addition to being directed towards
mitigating the circumstances of the wives experiencing
significant strain, the optimal strategy involves developing
programs aimed at strengthening the position of the younger
Women, so that their progress towards a similar
fate might be slowed or halted. A balance need be struck between
meeting the needs of the wives now in trouble and developing
measures aimed at preventing those not in difficulty from ever
reaching that point.
This approach to program planning takes recognition
of the process involved. For instance, the finding that wives
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A. The drawbacks of an exclusively target group approach
One planning strategy that may seem appropriate to
the present problem is the target group approach. In this, a
specific group within the population is singled out as being
the one to whom assistance efforts will be directed. The group
so identified is usually one in the greatest need or
in the most vulnerable circumstances in some respect. The underlying
philosophy of this approach is that helping the group in the
most desperate condition is an effective means of easing the
overall societal problem.
In the present study, in which such a group in the
most difficult straits has been identified, it may be argued that
this should be declared the target of any assistance attempts
to be developed. These wives, it may be asserted, are clearly
the most deserving of help, and ameliorating their situation
should be the goal of any programme implemented. However, the
arguments supporting the use of an exclusively target group
approach to the present problem, must be balanced by a consideration
of the process by which the group came to be in difficulty.
With this in mind, it will be seen that concentrating assistance
attempts on this group of wives creates serious question as to
whether the overall societal problem will be reduced.
A target group approach is most effective in certain
circumstances. In a situation in which the group in difficulty
has identifying characteristics- geographical, racial or cultural -
that set it apart from the rest of the population, improving
this group's status can serve to mitigate the overall problem.
Alternatively, should the vulnerable group be at the initial
stages of a development process e.g. infants in relation to
their nutritional status- working towards improving its
condition can serve to limit future problems. Concentration on
a target group in such instances could prove to be an optimal)
effective strategy for attacking the problems of the society
as a whole.
In the present context, however, it is questionable
whether a target group approach would effectively achieve an
improvement in the situation of the wives of the migrants.
The group identified as being in difficulty is in this case, at
the later stages of the process observed. Those outside the
group, rather than being set irrevocably apart from it, have
simply had less exposure to the relevant factnrfi
They appear simply to have advanced further along the
process by which a wife becomes increasingly likely to
experience significant strain.
As a wife goes on in life, she is likely to acquire
the characteristics found to be associated with high strain.
She is likely to move into a position of increased
responsibility within her household, to have her.available
resources outpaced by these responsibilities, and to live
apart from her husband for ever-increasing years.
All indications, thus, point to the increased likelihood
of her experiencing significant difficulty at some time.
Not experiencing such difficulty at present, therefore,
provides a wife with no assurance that She will not do so in
This discovery that a process is involved, to which
all wives are vulnerable, means that, rather than an isolated
group of wives being in difficulty, potentially every
migrant's wife is a victim of this process, and none can be
singled out as immune from it. Those not experiencing high
strain at present have an ever-increasing likelihood
of doing so in the f.iture. The policy implications of this
finding will be seen below.
VI Implications for Policy Planning
The findings of the present study have implications
for any program development aimed at improving the lives of
the migrants' wives. The identification of the group of
wives experiencing the greatest strain, and the explication
of the fact that a process is involved in the development of
such strain, are results which can help to guide the
overall planning str-ategy. These findings also, together with
others, i.e. the problems seen by the wives as their most
pressing, can be used to point to areas to which programs might
profitably be addressed. Each of these will be discussed below.
1. Evolving a Planning Strategy
Should a commitment be made to improve the lot of
the migrants' wives, considerable thought will have to be given
to the best means of working towards this. A plan of action
will have to be developed in which the optimal strategy for
achieving meaningful change is considered and the types of pro-
C. Loner exposure to their husbands' miLration The
women who are experiencing the greatest strain appear to be
those who lived intimately with the effects of labour
migration for the greatest number of years. They tend to be
those married longer, and to have husbands who have worked
as migrants for more years. Whatever the negative effects of
the absence of the husband, these appear to be exacerbated
as he is away longer, while the positive gains from this
situation are not commensurate, so that the overall effect
is of increasing strain as the years apart lengthen.
An earlier section examining the viewpoint that migration is
a normal way of life to which families have become accustomed
should be referred to for additional discussion of this
D, Greater desire for reunion with their husbands The
wives in the high strain group appear to want to live with
their husbands to a degree greater than those experiencing
less strain. This is indicated by the fact that they are more
likely to declare themselves as desiring both of the
alternatives that would allow them to do so. These wives are
more likely to want both to live with their husbands at the
men's place of work, and to have their husbands work in
Lesotho, than are other women. It is perhaps not
surprising that the women experiencing the greatest difficulty
in living apart from their husbands would be those most
interested in achieving a reunion. They appear to
consider living with their husbands per se as an
improvement over their present situation, and are interested
in alternative proposals for realising change in their
E. In conclusion: A process is involved
It may be seen from the above discussion that
experiencing significant strain involves a process in which
the wives of migrants become increasingly more vulnerable as
time goes on. The factors that describe the high strain
group, it can be seen, do not set it qualitatively apart
from those wives not experiencing high levels of strain.
Rather, the factors that distinguish this group appear
to be largely quantitative ones;these wives have more
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The migrant husband, it thus appears, is not expected
by his wife to meaningfully assist her in coping with her major
concerns. Her expressed satisfaction with his contribution
to these areas appears, often, to be earned at little cost.
2. The Wives Experiencing the Greatest Strain
The discussion will now turn to a consideration of the
characteristics of the wives identified as experiencing the greatest
strain. Consideration of the identifying characteristics of this
group led to the postulation of four factors that describe it,
distinguishing these wives from others with less strain.
These will be discussed below, followed by a conclusion as to the
process which can be seen to be involved.
A. Greater responsibilities It is clear that the wives
identified as belonging to the high strain group are those that
Should be likely to have greater responsibilities. The fact that
they tend to be older, to be the wives of the head of their
households, and to have more children would tend to put them in
the position of having more problems to solve, dependents to
provide for and responsibilities to meet. Fields and livestock,
the responsibility for which the high strain group tends to see
itself as bearing, appear to be a specialburden, incuring
problems of great concern For further clarification, see the
earlier discussion of wives decision-making and their attitudes
B. Fewer resources A number of the identifying
characteristics point to the wives in this group as tending to
be those with fewer resources to call upon. The fact that these
wives tend to be those living in households with inadequate
incomes point to their having diminished financial resources.
Their greater probability of living in the mountain zone of
Lesotho means that they tend to have fewer goods and services
available to them and greater difficulty with transport and
communication than women living in the foothills or lowlands of
the country. Also, their increased tendency of having a husband
whom they see as not concerning himself with household problems,
may mean that the wives experiencing significant strain are those
who cannot rely upon the financial and emotional support of their
husbands. These women appear to be impoverished in more ways
than one. The financial, emotional and societal resources upon which
they can draw appear to be less than those of more fortunate women.
It is difficult, thus, to see the assumption of
increased responsibility as being a positive force in these
women's lives. There is data available from an additional
question that queried this point directly, asking the
wives whether they "enjoy the independence you get when
your husband is away." Seventy percent of the wives felt
that this did not reflect their feelings with only 28%0
assenting to this viewpoint.
D. The wives' attitude of resignation. An additional observa-
tion developed out of a consideration of the findings of the
study that was not referred to in the earlier section. The
results of the survey of the migrant wives suggest that the
wives have an attitude of resignation towards their situation.
They appear to expect only minimal participation of their
husbands in family affairs, describing themselves as satisfied
when only that minimum is evident.
This is indicated by a number of findings of the study.
It can be seen that,although 37% of the wives described an
agriculture-related problem to be their greatest concern in
their husbands' absence, 56o of the wives considered themselves
satisfied with their husbands'part in taking care of
agriculture. Also 65% of the wives felt that their problems
with their children would be reduced if their husbands were home,
and 61% felt that their children missed their father. However,
72% of the wives considered their husbands to have carried
out all of his responsibilities towards the children.
Similarly, although 66% of the household of the wives had
inadequate incomes, and 90% of the households depended solely
on migrants remittances for their income, the majority of wives,
56%,declared themselves satisfied with the amount of money
the husband sent home.
Considering the findings as to difficulties expressed
in these areas, it is difficult to conclude that the
husband's role in regards to field and livestock, bringing up of
children and financial support, is sufficient to fulfill the
wife's needs. Rather, it appears that the wives, in the main, do
not expect their husbands to meet their needs. They appear
to expect little from their absent husbands and should some
The cross-tabulations of strain scores with variables
relating to responsibility and decision-making furnish no evidence
V that the wives enjoy such functions. Should these functions be
viewed positively, it might be expected tha; women exercising th-m to
to a greater degree would be experiencing less strain. Those
women in more responsible positions in their households, i.e.
older women, wives rather than daughters-in-law of the household
head, should be having less difficulty than those in more
dependent positions,because of their greater independence of
action. Instead, the findin:-s show that those circumstances
likely to bring with them greater decision-making and responsib1ili-
i.e. older age, being the wife of the household head, having
children,were associated with higher and not lower levels of strain.
The results of the cross-tabulations with variables that
specifically pertain to responsibility and independent decision-
making tend to support th(E same conclusion as regards enjoyment
of these functions. In almost every instance, greater
responsibility was associated with higher levels of strain, Wives
decision-making in regard to their families was found not to
be associated with strain. score. It might be argued that should
such decision-making be enjoyed it should be expected to
negatively correlate wit.; strain, A striking finding of the studt:
in regard to independent decision-making by the wives, was the
increased likelihood of having high strain scores found for wives
whose absent husbands did not make important decisions concerning
the family. Wives who coerate without their husbands in
regard to family matters, appear to have significantly more
difficulty than those who make such decisions with their husbands)
help, Independent decision-making, thus, cannot be seen to be an
activity enjoyed by the wives, but rather one associated
with unpleasant stress.
There is evidence that responsibility for fields and
livestock is, similarly, not enjoyed by the wives. Over a
third of the wives described their greatest problem in their
husbands absence as agriculture-related, a factor that associates
with strain. Also, those wives who felt that they bore this
responsibility had a significantly greater likelihood of having
a high strain scoje than did wives who did not consider this
responsibility to lie with them. Responsibility in this arei of
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This is not to say that kinsmen may not provide some assistance
to the wives of absent migrants, but that it appears not to be
extensive, or effective enough to significantly influence the way
in which the wives function or the burden that they bear.
C. The wives decision-making function and their attitude
The controversy described in Section II was concerned
with whether the wife was the decision-maker in regard to family
and property in the husbands' absence, or whether the husband retained
this function while away. Also discussed was the issue of how the
wife viewed this possible decision-makinr; function; as an unwelcome
responsibility, or as a positive extensive of desired freedom of action.
The findings of the study point to a somewhat complex
situation in regard to decision-making but are fairly clear as to
the wives possible enjoyment of this. The results indicate that
the wives do feel that they.make decisions in regard to family
affairs in the absence of their husbands. Sixty-five percent of the
wives stated this to be the case, in response to a question querying
this point. At the same time, however, an even larger percent,
78%, felt that their husbands continued to make important decisions "
concerning the family while they were away at work. These findings
may mean that, rather than acting independently in regard to
family affairs, the wives tend to make deRisi6ns jointly with their
husbands. Alternatively it is possible that husbands and wives are
seen as having different spheres of family concern for which they
are responsible for decision-making. Or, it may simply be that
sometimes the wife and sometimes the husband makes the decision,
depending on the particular circumstances. In any case, it does not
appear that either spouse has the sole responsibility for making
important family decisions but rather that both play a part.
In regard to responsibility for fields and livestock, 74% of
the wives consider themselves as bearing this with their husbands
away. This finding, however, is difficult to interpret in terms of
decision-making, Agriculture as it is practiced in Lesotho,
involves many activities and different levels of responsibility in
decision-making. It is very possible, for example, that a wife may
have the responsibility for carrying out much of the actual work of
agriculture, whether doing it herself or arranging for it to be done.
She may,however, have little responsibility for making the decisions
regarding agriculture and cattle, evidence being available that
it is the husband who retains that function while away, to the point
Kinsmen were described, in one view, as taking over his
responsibilities, assisting his wife and children, and
supervising his fields and livestock. The present study
examined a number of variables that pertain directly to this
discussion. The first two refer to the wives' raising of
children in the husbands' absence, the third with responsibility
for fields and livestock.
The first of these was a question asking the wives
whether they felt it was important for a father to help raise
his children. Out of 22 attitude questions, this proved to be the
one on which the wives were most unanimous in their opinion,
with 94% agreeing on the importance of the father's role.
The second relevant question was perhaps more directly to the
point, asking whether the wives felt that "as long as there
are other male relatives present to help raise children it does
not matter whether the children' father is present or not." The
majority of the wives answered that this did not represent
their view. The wives do not appear to feel that a kinsman
can adequately substitute for an absent father.
The third question queried whether the wife felt that
she bore the responsibility for her family's fields and
livestock in her husband's absence. Presumably, if she did not
feel this to be true, she considered this responsibility to
rest either with her husband even when away, or with someone
other than herself or her husband, presumably another family
member. In the present study, 74% of the wives whose
family's have fields and/or livestock consider this responsibility
to be their own, This does not point to kinsmen as largely
taking over this function in the husband's absence. The
results of the three items from the study pertinent to this theory,
then do not serve to support it.
In addition, the very fact that there are a significant
number of wives experiencing high levels of strain and that this
strain is associated with both responsibility for fields and
livestock, and having a problem related to fields and livestock,
points to the extended family as not having a strong impact
in this area. Should the wives have had significant aid from
their families with these concerns, it is questionable whether
more than a third would have described their greatest problem as
one related to agriculture and whether responsibility for fields
and livestock would have been associated, at an extremely
high level of probability, with strain.
1. The Contraversies in the Light of the Study's Findings
The initial focus of the discussion is a
consideration of the controversies as to the wives lives
presented above in Section II in the light of the current
findings. Also discussed will be an additional
observation of the wives drawn from the research results.
A. Migration as a normal way of life to which the
families have become accustomed. One viewpoint described in
Section II posited that the very extent of labour migration
in Lesotho, in terms of its long history and widespread
prevalence, has meant that it is not significantly disruptive.
Families are seen as adjusting to this phenomenon, becoming
accustomed to the absence of their men, and functioning without
undue difficulty with them gone.
Th:. findings of the present study would make it
difficult to accept this position. Consistent with such a
viewpoint would have been results that pointed to the younger
women, with the shortest exposure to labour migration,
as experiencing greater strain than the older wives. Strain
would have decreased an the initial shock of separation
lessened and wives became increasingly accustomed to living
without their husbands. Greater exposure to labour migration
should, consistent with this view, have meant greater ease
of functioning as wives learned to accommodate for their
The results of the present study were consistently
in the opposite direction, with the older wives, having had
greater exposure to labour migration, experiencing greater
strain in their husbands' absence. It thus appears that rather
than increased familiarity with theosituation leading to a
better ability to cope and an adaptation to the husband's
absence, greater exposure just leads to greater stress.
Labour migration and the resultant absence of the husband
appear to be influences too disruptive of family life to
permit graceful adjustment and accommodation.
B. The extended family as largely substituting for
the absent huTsband. In section II of the paper
it was discussed whether the effects of labour migration on the
family were muted by the extended family's subserving the
functions of the absent husband.