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Thursday, Apr 25, 2002

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Migration cited for fewer men in Kerala

C.J. Punnathara

KOCHI, April 24

IN striking contrast to the rest of the country, why has the population ratio in Kerala been in favour of females for the past several decades?

A study conducted at the Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram, might provide the clue. The study has estimated that there are 1.3 million NRIs working in the Gulf countries, Europe and the US.

Most of these NRIs are male. This mass emigration of men in search of jobs abroad has resulted in more women awaiting the return of their husbands from abroad - tilting the sex ratio of Kerala heavily in favour of the resident females.

``Migration from Kerala always included more males than females, and migration has been a factor contributing to the unique sex ratio (favouring females) in the State, in clear contrast to other States in India,'' the study by Mr K.C. Zachariah, Mr E.T. Mathew and Mr S. Irudaya Rajan, said.

The husbands of as many as one million women in Kerala are working abroad.

That means one out of every eight married women has her husband working abroad.

The study terms the large number of married women living away from their husbands as `Gulf wives'.

Meanwhile, single-member households have increased in the State by 33 per cent, while two-member households increased by 42 per cent as a direct result of migration.

To start with, these `Gulf wives' confronted extreme sense of loneliness.

But over a period of time and with a helping hand from their husbands abroad, most of them have come out of their state of desolateness.

This experience instilled in them a greater sense of autonomy, independent status, management skills and experience in dealing with the world outside their homes.

The study also attributed migration as "one of the most positive outcomes of the Kerala Model of development".

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