Seasonal migration of rural labor in India

Y. Haberfeld, R. K. Menaria, B. B. Sahoo, R. N. Vyas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The impact of seasonal migration has been overlooked by students of migration. A unique data set collected in Dungarpur - one of the less developed districts of India - allows us to closely examine both the determinants and impact of seasonal migration. Detailed information was gathered from all members of 624 households, thus enabling analyses at both individual and household levels. The findings indicate that seasonal migration among rural laborers is wide-spread. Rural households in India use migrant labor offered by their members to improve their well-being by both reducing the impacts of inferior conditions and by raising household's income levels. Migrant labor is a compensating mechanism used by households to reduce their disadvantageous position. Migrant households are characterized by lower education levels, lower levels of income from agriculture, and by an inferior geographical location. However, those households sending migrant labor are found to have higher income levels than those not sending migrant labor. Income from migrant labor accounts for almost 60% of total annual income of households sending at least one migrant laborer. Such findings are in accordance with explanations derived from the 'new economics of migration'. We can thus learn that migration-related decisions should not evaluated only on the basis of utility maximization of individual migrants, but also on the basis of risk reducing by households.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-489
Number of pages17
JournalPopulation Research and Policy Review
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1999


  • India
  • Migrant labor
  • Rural households


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