|dc.description.abstract||This Working Paper embodies the results of the Kerala Migration
Survey (KMS) 2011. It is the fifth in the series of comprehensive studies
on international and internal migration from Kerala being undertaken
by the Centre for Development Studies since 1998. Over the years,
some broad patters on migration have emerged from these studies. Some
of these are enumerated in this abstract.
The number of Kerala emigrants (EMI) living abroad in 2011 is
estimated to be 2.28 million, up from 2.19 million in 2008, 1.84 million
in 2003 and 1.36 million in 1998. The increase during inter-survey
periods shows a decreasing trend. The increase could vanish much before
2015 and the migration trend could very well slope downward.
The number of Kerala emigrants who returned and living in Kerala
(REM) in 2011 is estimated to be 1.15 million. There was a small decrease
in the number of return emigrants during 2008-11. It was 1.16 million in
Kerala migrants living in other states in India (OMI) in 2011 is
estimated to be 931,000, up from 914,000 in 2008. The increase was not
very substantial, less than 2 percent.
Kerala out-migrants who returned and are now living in Kerala
(return out-migrants) are estimated to be 511,000 in 2011. The
corresponding number was 686,000 in 2008, 994,000 in 2003 and
959,000 in 1998. There was a consistent decline in the number of return
out-migrants. More and more Kerala migrants in the other states in
India tend to stay back in their host state or move abroad instead of
returning to their native state. Geographic Aspects of Migration: Northward Shift
If demography is destiny, as is often claimed by demographers,
Kerala’s destiny is moving northwards. Several relevant elements of
Kerala’s demography have shown a steady northward shift. Over the
years, the centre of population has moved northward. In recent years,
population growth has become much higher in the state’s north than in
its southern region. The origin of emigration from Kerala is moving to
its north. More and more remittances are ending up in the north. In
recent years more of the developments in education and health have
taken place in the north than in the south. In 1998, only 33.4 percent of
Kerala’s population with secondary or higher levels of education lived
in the north (Malappuram to Kasaragod) and the remaining 66.6 percent
lived in the south and central regions of the state. By 2011, the
corresponding proportions were 39.0 in the north and 61.0 in the other
regions. The proportion in the north has increased by 5.6 percentage
points, whereas the proportion in the south and central regions decreased
by the same percentage. Similarly, in 1998, the north accounted for only
33.4 percent of employed persons, but by 2011, the corresponding
proportion increased to 39.0 percent. In 1998, only 15.6 percent of
population in the north was employed in the private sector of the
economy, but by 2011, as much as 32.4 percent of the north’s population
was employed in the private sector. The corresponding percentages in
the self-employment sector were 32.8 per cent in 1998 and 36.0 percent
Emigration from Kerala is dominated by Muslims whose share of
the emigrants from the state (44.3 percent) continued to remain very
much higher than their share in the population (26.5 percent). On the
other handout-migrants from the state are mostly Hindus, whose share
of out-migrants (64.6 percent) continued to remain very much higher
than their share in the population (56.8 percent). Corresponding to 100 households, there are 59.1 emigrants in
Muslim households, but only 18.1 emigrants in Hindu households and
29.0 emigrants in Christian households.
Among the Muslims, 53.3 percent of the households had at least
one emigrant or return emigrant. However, among the Hindu households,
only 19.6 percent of the households had a non-resident Keralite. The
Christians are not far from the Hindus in this matter. Among them only
21.3 percent had one or more non-resident Keralites.
Remittances from emigrants abroad to Kerala in 2011 were
estimated to be approximately Rs 49,695 crores compared with
Rs. 43,288 crores 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 percent) was much larger than increase in the number
of emigrants (4 percent).
Muslim households received Rs. 23,089 crores as remittances from
abroad in 2011. This amounts to 46.5 percent of the total remittances.
Hindus received Rs 18,089 crores or 36.4 percent of the total. The
Christian community received Rs. 8,508 crores or 17.1 percent.
Although the total remittances to the state are relatively very
large, only a small fraction (17.1 percent) of the households in Kerala
received them; more than 80 percent of the Kerala households did not
receive any remittances in 2011. There are, however, large differentials
by religion. The corresponding proportion was as low as 11.4 percent
among the Hindus, 14.4 percent among the Christians but as high as
36.6 percent among the Muslim households.
Impact of Migration
The macro-economic impact of emigration and remittances are
very significant. Emigration and the ensuing remittances continue to remain the single most dynamic factor in Kerala’s economic scenario.
Remittances were 31 percent of the state’s domestic product. The per
capita income in the state is Rs 52,000 without taking into consideration
remittances, but would be Rs 68,000 if remittances were taken in to
The economic benefits that the state receives from these annual
remittances are huge, but they have to be balanced with the losses in the
matter of human resources. At present, there is acute scarcity of qualified
workers in every field in the state. More than 30 percent of persons with
higher educational qualifications are now living abroad. More than
25 to 30 of percent of workers in high skill occupations are now living
outside the state. The negative impact of this drain on Kerala’s economy
is yet to be fully quantified in financial terms.
Equally pertinent is the drain of funds that go into educating Kerala’s
youth outside the state. This amount was roughly about Rs 1703 crores in
2011, or 3.4 percent of the annual remittances to the state.
Migration is also having a negative impact on income distribution
in the state. As the early emigrants from the state were mostly
construction workers, there was a general feeling that emigration
contributed to income equality. However, a more recent comparison of
the employment and educational characteristics of the emigrants with
those of the non-migrants show that this may not be true any longer. In
recent years, the relatively better-off persons emigrate and improves
their income level and consequently emigration contributes inequality.
More direct information on the relation between emigration and
income is provided by the data on the possession of red and blue ration
cards by Kerala households and also by the data on enrolment in RSBY.
These data show that emigrants come from the relatively richer
households, and that emigration would have contributed to increased
inequality in Kerala society. Migration Prospects
Trends emerging from these studies, some directly related to
emigration and others related to determinants of emigration, support
the conclusion that emigration from Kerala seems to be approaching an
inflexion point in history. Kerala’s Gulf connection is edging towards a
turning point. Emigration from Kerala in 2011 is more or less at the
same level it was in 2008, indicating that 2011 is not far from the inflexion
point in the history of emigration from Kerala. Many of the major centres
of emigration in Kerala are already experiencing a decline in the number
of emigrants and/or emigrants per household.
The experience of Pathanamthitta district could be seen as
forerunner of things to come in Kerala. In Pathanamthitta district, the
number of emigrants was 98,000 in 1998, 134,000 in 2003, and 121,000
in 2008 but only 91,000 in 2011 – lower than the number in 1998.
Emigrants per household was 33.1 in 1998, 44.3 per cent in 2003 and
37.4 percent in 2008 but only 28.4 percent in 2011. The point of
inflexion in emigration trend in Pathanamthitta district was as early as
Supporting evidence is provided by the trends in the factors related
to migration – demographic contraction of young working age
population in Kerala, dwindling wage differentials between Kerala and
the Gulf region, competition from other Indian states in India and other
countries abroad, and above all, the rapidly increasing cost of emigration.
All these trends point towards emergence of an era of decreasing trend
in emigration from Kerala. Kerala’s Gulf connection could reach its
inflexion point in a matter of 4-5 years.||en_GB