Socio-economic disparity reflects in migration too: Study

KV Kurmanath Hyderabad | Updated on January 01, 2020 Published on January 01, 2020

Being poor hurts people in several ways. A study by the Indian Institute of Technology (Hyderabad) has thrown light on how socio-economic background of people could impact their ability to migrate.

In a sharp contrast, those in the upper end of the social and economic hierarchy in villages are ‘disproportionately’ represented in rural-urban migration.

Their social and economic status determines which way they take when they migrate.

The study shows that migration is lowest among the poorest households. Poverty, therefore, appears to be an impediment that hinders those at the bottom-most bracket to migrate, but not those in higher income brackets.

About 78 per cent of all migrants from rural Bihar move to an urban destination.

The study, Poverty, Migration and Development in rural Bihar, was conducted by Amrita Datta, Assistant Professor (Department of Liberal Arts, IIT-H); Institute for Human Development (New Delhi); and the Indian Council of Social Science Research.

It covered 12 villages in seven districts of Araria, Gaya, Gopalganj, Nalanda, Madhubani, Rohtas and Purnia in Bihar, covering 9,737 individuals in 1,588 households. Of this, about two-third of the households were also studied earlier in 1998-99 and 2009-11.

These migrant workers are more educated and tend to step out of the village without having worked at all in the local rural economy.

“This relatively better-off migration stream contrasts with the other, more precarious migration stream in which workers predominantly undertake manual work. When the latter migrate, they are more likely to work in rural areas,” she said.

These differentiated migrant labour markets pathway suggest that social and economic hierarchies in source regions are translated in destination regions.

“Where one is located in the social and economic ladder in the village determines what kind of work she or he will undertake at the destination of migration,” Amrita said.

She contends that this area of research is understudied. The broad objectives of this research were to study the socio-economic attributes of migration; changes in the patterns of migration over time; linkages between poverty, migration and development and shifts in the sources of rural income.

Migration beneficial

Almost all of the return migrants said that migration benefited their families. Yet, almost all of them didn’t want to stay away forever.

“This is not a paradox because material gains of migration come at the high cost of separation from family members,” she pointed out.

Over time, the percentage of households with migrants increased from 45 per cent in 1999 to 62 per cent in 2011 to 65 per cent in 2016. This suggests that Bihar’s high rates of migration may be stabilising.

Migration means higher incomes for the kin back home. More than 90 per cent of all migrants sent remittances, and remittances comprised 55 per cent of total income of households with migrants.

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Published on January 01, 2020
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