Working Paper T1. Livelihood Outcomes of Migration for Poor People.


This paper aims to document studies and research of households and communities that use migration as a means to diversify the portfolio of household activities, to improve capacity and flexibility to respond to external shocks, and simply to reduce the number of people the household must sustain.

The paper concentrates on 'livelihoods' studies that may explicitly specify a sustainable livelihoods approach, a broader livelihoods approach to labour migration, or may simply be a consideration of household well-being that extends beyond income. The review includes more studies found in academic journals, which employ a broader notion of livelihoods, and generally (though by no means systematically or, sometimes, not at all) refers to the methodology and methods used in generating the information. Much of the literature starts from an open-minded view of migration, for the large part moving away from normative ideas around migration as a 'social evil', although certain studies do conceptualise migration in this way. The fact that the majority of the studies included are located in Africa and Asia reflects the geographic bias in the literature (and funding/donor interest), but also the interest of the Development Research Centre on Migration, Globalisation and Poverty. Literatures around nomadic peoples, pastoralists, etc. are not included in this review although clearly they have a fully mobile livelihood. The paper documents evidence in the following areas: inequality (Section 2), vulnerability (Section 3), remittances and savings (Section 4), social identity and networks (Section 5), and issues of health and education (Section 6). Across these different areas, there is a diversity of findings, and evidence is mixed and largely inconclusive about the livelihood outcomes of migration for poor people. However, there are areas and issues about which little is known, which represent fruitful areas for further research.


WP-T1, Sussex, UK, DRC on Migration, Globalisation and Poverty, 51 pp.

Working Paper T1. Livelihood Outcomes of Migration for Poor People.

Published 1 January 2003