Migration, remittances and employment : short-term trends and long-term implications
Zachariah, K. C.
Rajan, S. Irudaya
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This Working Paper gives the results of the 2007 round of the Migration Monitoring Studies (MMS) being conducted periodically by the Centre for Development Studies. It covers three areas: migration, remittances and employment. Their short-term trends and long-term development implications are the main concern of the paper. Contrary to expectation, the international migration situation in Kerala has remained absolutely stationary during 2003-07. The number of emigrants, return emigrants, non-resident Keralites and the proportion of Kerala households with a non-resident Keralite each in 2007 were the same as they had been in 2003. Mobility in Kerala has become, so to say, immobile. The era of large-scale emigration from the state seems to be largely over. However, internal migration was not very static. It has started declining. Today more persons are coming to the state than are going out. The first half of the 21st century could be like the first half of the 20th century when Kerala had been a net in-migrating state. A second unexpected result was in the area of employment and unemployment. Here again, contrary to common wisdom, unemployment has declined by a whooping 40 percent during 2003- 07. Simultaneously, employment has increased by over 3 lakh persons, with a 100 percent increase in the private sector and 20 percent increase in self-employment. Remittances to the state have toed the expected line with a consistent increase of 33 percent during 2003-07. Remittances formed about 20 percent of the state's NSDP and 30 percent more than the state's annual revenue receipts. What do these short-term trends in migration, remittances and employment mean for the development process in the state? Migration used to be a partial solution to the unemployment problem in the state. It was also a partial solution to the subsistence problems of many a household in Kerala. Migration is still serving these purposes eminently. In addition, it is now emerging as a major factor in two other areas. Firstly, migration, especially internal migration, seems to be bridging also the demand-supply gap caused by inadequacy of postmetric educational facilities in the state. Second, remittance-based investments seem to be taking over from the remittances-based consumption as the state's new growth driver. Key words: Migration, Remittances, Employment JEL Classification: J21, J23