Unmasking the dichotomy of temporary and permanent labour migrations in India

Kunal Keshri, International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS)
Ram B. Bhagat, International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS)

Historically India has witnessed large scale internal labour mobility. Temporary and permanent migrations are two competing forms of labour mobility which are dichotomized on the basis of duration and usual place of residence. Temporary labour migration is a move made for a short period of time (say few months in a year) with the intention of returning to the place of usual residence. Conversely, in permanent labour migration usual residence of the person is changed and his/her chances to return home are very less. While researchers and policy makers have increasingly recognized the importance of temporary migration, little attempt has been made to understand the dichotomy of temporary and permanent forms of labour migration. Indian National Sample Survey, which is responsible for collecting socio-economic data in the country, has recently collected detailed information related to temporary migration along with permanent migration on its 64th round (2007-2008). In this article, using this data we focussed on the extent to which the pattern and characteristics of permanent and temporary migrants differ. We also endeavoured to examine whether social and economic factors have the similar effect on both forms of labour mobility or is it vice-versa? Results show stark differentials in temporary and permanent labour migration in respect to place of residence and sex. Further, results show that socioeconomically backward groups like scheduled tribes and scheduled castes are more likely to migrate temporarily than higher caste groups. Contrastingly, higher caste groups are more likely to be permanent migrants. Results, further, suggest that educational level is negatively associated with temporary migration. It could be inferred from the preliminary results that socio-economically backward and poorest of the poor are more likely migrate temporarily while better-off groups are more likely to go for permanent migration.

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Presented in Session 55: Data issues of internal migration