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Int Migr Rev. 1983 Spring;17(1):34-64.

Rural development and urban migration: can we keep them down on the farm?



This study tests the hypothesis that rural development projects and programs reduce rural-urban migration. The author presents various factors in the social theories of migration, including those relating to origin and destination, intervening obstacles such as distance, and personal factors. 3 economic models of migration are the human capital or cost-benefit approach, the expected income model, and the intersectoral linkage model. Empirical studies of migration indicate that: 1) rural areas with high rates of out-migration tend to have high population densities or high ratios of labor to arable land, 2) distance inhibits migration, 3) rural-urban migration is positively correlated with family income level, and 4) selectivity differences in socioeconomic status between migrants and nonmigrants often are grouped into development packages which might include irrigation, new varieties of seed, subsidized credit, increased extension, and improved marketing arrangements. The migration impacts of some of these efforts are described: 1) land reform usually is expected to slow rural out-migration because it normally increases labor utilization in rural areas, but this is a limited effect, 2) migration effects of the Green Revolution technology are mainly in rural-rural migration, and 3) agricultural mechanization may stimulate rural-urban migration in the long run. Development of rural social services migh have various effects on rural-urban migration. Better rural education, which improves the chances of urban employment, will stimulate rural-urban migration, while successful rural family planning programs will have a negative effect in the long run as there will be reduced population pressure on arable land. Better rural health services might reduce the incentive for rural-urban migration as well. It is suggested that governments reconsider policies which rely on rural development to curb rural-urban migration and alleviate problems of urban poverty and underemployment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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