Resurveys in six villages in Madhya Pradesh show that contrary to mainstream perceptions, seasonal/circular migration has become more accumulative for the poor over the last five years as new opportunities in urban areas have reduced the uncertainty of finding work, wages have increased and the dependence on contractors has declined. Furthermore, migration is attracting more women and upper castes as traditional restrictions related to manual work break down. Migration has brought greater returns to those with skills or strong social networks. Others, relying on contractors or facing discrimination, have not benefited as much. Nevertheless, migration is viewed by the poor as a strategy for improving household well-being. Migration has reduced borrowing for consumption, improved debt repayment capacity and given migrants greater confidence and bargaining power. The paper concludes that policy should shift towards migrant support away from migration prevention. NGO initiatives that offer lessons for migrant support are reviewed.
Priya Deshingkar; Pramod Sharma; Sushil Kumar; Shaheen Akter; John Farrington