Population Research and Policy Review

, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 471–487 | Cite as

Seasonal migration of rural labor in India

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


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.

Migrant labor Rural households India 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Acharya, S. (1989). Agricultural wages in India: A disaggregated analysis, Indian Journal of Agricultural Economics 44: 121–139.Google Scholar
  2. Borjas, G. (1992). Immigration research in the 1980s: A turbulent decade, in: D. Lewin, O. S. Mitchell & P. D. Sherer (eds.), Research frontiers in industrial relations and human resources (pp. 417–446). Madison, WI: IRRA.Google Scholar
  3. Bose, A. (1991). Population of India: 1991 Census Results and Methodology. Delhi: B.R. Publishing Corporation.Google Scholar
  4. Davis, K. (1951). The population of India and Pakistan, Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Dayal, P. (1959). Population growth and rural urban migration in India, National Geographical Journal of India 5.Google Scholar
  6. Dunn, D. (1993). Gender inequality in education and employment in the scheduled castes and tribes of India, Population Research and Policy Review12: 53–70.Google Scholar
  7. Gabriel, P. E. & Schmitz, S. (1995). Favorable self-selection and the internal migration of young white males in the United States, The Journal of Human Resources 30: 460–471.Google Scholar
  8. Gallanter, M. (1984). Competing inequalities: law and the backward classes in India. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  9. Ghanshyam, S. (1991). Study group on migrant labour. In: National Commission on Rural Labour, Report 2.Google Scholar
  10. India (census) (1991). District Census Handbook – Dungarpur, Government of India.Google Scholar
  11. Massey, D. S., Arango, J., Hugo, G., Kouaouci, A., Pellegrino, A. & Taylor, E. J. (1993). Theories of international migration: A review and appraisal, Population and Development Review 19: 431–466.Google Scholar
  12. National Commission on Rural Labour (1991). Report.Google Scholar
  13. Prabhakara, N. R. (1986). Internal migration and population redistribution in India. New Delhi: Concept Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  14. Rao, M. S. A. (1986). Some aspects of sociology of migration in India, in: M. S. A. Rao (ed.), Studies in migration. Delhi: Manohar.Google Scholar
  15. Stark, O. & Bloom, D. E. (1985). The new economics of labor migration, American Economic Review 75: 173–178.Google Scholar
  16. Unni, J. (1996). Diversification of economic activities and non-agricultural employment in rural Gujarat, Economic and Political Weekly, 17 August.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Y. Haberfeld
    • 1
  • R. K. Menaria
    • 2
  • B. B. Sahoo
    • 3
  • R. N. Vyas
    • 4
  1. 1.Tel-Aviv UniversityIsrael
  2. 2.Society for Development Research and ActionUdaipurIndia
  3. 3.Indian Statistical InstituteNew DelhiIndia
  4. 4.M.L. Sukhadia UniversityUdaipurIndia

Personalised recommendations