The core argument of this paper is that the potential benefits of internal migration are not being fully realised because of an inadequate understanding of migration patterns (especially temporary and circular migration), continuing policy barriers to population movement, urban middle-class attitudes, social exclusion on the basis of ethnicity, caste, tribe and gender and poor enforcement.
Internal migration has greater potential for poverty reduction, meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and contributing to economic growth in developing countries than does international migration. This is because of four things. First, internal migration stems from a broader base where smaller sums of money are evenly distributed to specific areas and poor families through internal remittances (rather than international remittances, which reach fewer people). Second, it is likely that internal migration will continue to increase at a faster rate than international migration. Third, internal migration involves poorer people from poorer regions and has a strong role to play in achieving the MDGs. Fourth, it is an important driver of growth in many sectors including agriculture, manufacturing, construction, coastal economies and services.