Working Paper T3. Poverty, vulnerability and migration choice.


The aim of this literature review is to examine the links between poverty and migration. Specifically, the paper investigates poverty and vulnerability as determinants of migration. Until recent years, this has been a relatively under-researched area, at least in comparison to the significant amount of (economic) literature examining the reverse causal relationship, the impact of migration on wellbeing. Poverty and vulnerability are likely to have two conflicting effects on migration: by providing incentives to migrate, either as a strategy for livelihood diversification or out of destitution; but also by reducing the ability to migrate because the transfer costs involved (in terms of financial, human, physical and social capital) are too high.

The paper is divided into three parts. Part one examines the literature on migration choice and the determinants of migration that has emerged predominantly from the field of economics, and the New Economics of Migration. Part two reviews the poverty-migration linkages from the perspective of the sustainable livelihoods literature. Finally, the review analyses linkages between the two strands of literature and presents some ideas for future research.


WP-T3, Sussex, UK, DRC on Migration, Globalisation and Poverty, 22 pp.

Working Paper T3. Poverty, vulnerability and migration choice.

Published 1 January 2003