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Kerala Migration Survey

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September 19, 2018

Why in news?

Kerala Migration Survey, conducted by the Centre for Development Studies, released its report recently.

What are the findings of the report?

  • There are 2.1 million emigrants from Kerala across the world, of which 15.8 per cent are women.
  • The emigration from the state has shown a fall of 11.6 per cent in the last five years.
  • It found that there has been a reduction of 3 lakh emigrants in 2013-18, which is one-tenth of the number of emigrants in 2013.
  • The report attributes the following reasons for the dip in migration-
  • Demography - Demographic advances have decreased population in the migration-prone age group (15-29 years) as Kerala attained replacement level of fertility as early as 1987.
  • Wages - Wages in Gulf countries have not improved after the global economic crisis.
  • It has led to lower savings and demotivating people to migrate.
  • Kerala has the highest wage rate in the informal sector in India, and hence wages in Kerala have increased compared to other states.
  • Price rise - Prices of oil have been declining since 2010 impacting the growth of the Gulf economy.
  • Other sectors like Construction too are not as vibrant as it used to be.
  • Nationalisation -  Policies such as Nitaqat and family taxes in Saudi Arabia provides a non-conducive environment for current and prospective migrants.
  • Increasingly, native youth are trained and employed in occupations that once went to migrants.
  • Skilled migration – Of the total emigrants, 42.3% are graduates or have a higher qualification.
  • Investment in education have made Keralites skilled and made them migrate to the developed economies in the West.
  • People are also increasingly migrating to the West through the Gulf.

How emigration helped Keralites?

  • Emigration and remittances have played a predominant role in enabling households in Kerala to meet their basic needs and to invest in assets.
  • Migrants use over 40% of their remittances on purchasing land, construction and repayment of housing mortgage.
  • One in every five households in Kerala has a migrant.
  • Among religious groups, one in three households is a Muslim, one in five households is a Christian, and one in 10 households is a Hindu.
  • The estimated total remittances to Kerala are Rs 85,000 crore.
  • Remittances to the state have increased with Keralites in the Gulf climbing the social ladder and earning higher wages.
  • With depreciating rupee, more can be remitted to families in Kerala than earlier.
  • Hence, Even Non-emigrant families plan to send someone as a livelihood strategy to cope with the loss of assets and livelihoods.  
  • But the trend has reversed with emigration from Kerala is falling and return migration is on the rise.
  • The long history of migration from Kerala to the Gulf is in its last phase.

Where does the future lie?

  • Kerala faces replacement migration, which has close to 3 million migrants from other states who have replaced workers who have left for the Gulf countries.
  • Impact of recent floods may find them leaving to their home states for better opportunities.
  • This might require further migration and remittances to rebuild kerala.
  • Also, demographic pressures like ageing might affect the local economy in the future.
  • Hence, Kerala has to slowly move towards a new model from the remittance-dependent economy that it is today.

Source: Indian Express

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