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Study finds trend reversal in emigration from Kerala

Press Trust of India Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on March 31, 2013

The survey points to the emergence of an era of decreasing trend in emigration from Kerala. The State’s Gulf connection could reach its inflexion point in 4-5 years.

Amid fears over Keralites losing jobs in Saudi Arabia in the wake of a new labour policy called ‘Nitaquat’, a recent study has indicated a trend reversal in emigration from the State.

The number of Kerala emigrants living abroad in 2011 was estimated to be 2.28 million, up from 2.19 million in 2008, 1.84 million in 2003 and 1.36 million in 1998, indicating that the increase during inter-survey periods shows a declining trend, according to a study by K.C. Zachariah and S. Irudaya Rajan of Centre for Development Studies here.”

‘Ón the way out’

Irudaya Rajan told PTI that “Kerala is going to be out of the emigration picture in future. “As to how the happenings in Saudi Arabia are going to affect the trend has to be watched. Probably, it might decrease emigration now itself,” he said.

The survey points to the emergence of an era of decreasing trend in emigration from Kerala. The State’s Gulf connection could reach its inflexion point in a matter of 4-5 years, the study said.

The increase could vanish by 2015 and the trend could very well slide downward, it was stated.

Emigration from the State was dominated by Muslims whose share of the emigrants (44.3 per cent) continued to remain very much higher than their share in the population (26.5 per cent).

The share of Hindus (64.6 per cent) was also much higher than their share in the population (56.8 per cent).

Among the Muslims, 53.3 per cent of the households had at least one emigrant or return emigrant. However, among the Hindu households, only 19.6 per cent of the households had a non-resident Keralite. Among Christians only 21.3 per cent had one or more non-resident Keralites.

Remittances

Remittances from emigrants to Kerala in 2011 were estimated to be approximately Rs 49,695 crore, compared with Rs 43,288 crore in 2008.

Remittances were Rs 63,315 per household in 2011 compared with Rs 57,227 in 2008. Increase in remittances during 2008-11 (15 per cent) was much larger than increase in the number of emigrants (4 per cent), the study said.

Stating that the remittances, which is 31 per cent of State domestic product, from abroad plays a vital role in State’s economy, emigration and the ensuing remittances continue to remain the single most dynamic factor in Kerala’s economic scenario. Another study on emigrants returning to Kerala showed that there were roughly over 1.3 million return emigrants. The number of return emigrants was expected to increase to about 1.6 million by 2015.

The study said the largest number of emigrants from Kerala lives in the United Arab Emirates, but the largest number of return emigrants was from Saudi Arabia.

The average number of years of residence of return emigrants abroad was higher for emigrants to the UAE than for emigrants to Saudi Arabia, which has one of the lowest averages.

The Gulf countries that are relatively more attractive for the Kerala emigrants are Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait, the study said.

Published on March 31, 2013

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