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Development Impacts of International Migration on “Sending” Communities: The Case of Rural Kyrgyzstan


This paper analyzes the impacts of international migration and remittances on different sources of income in rural Kyrgyzstan. Based on a household dataset from the Life in Kyrgyzstan panel survey of 1012 rural households, we estimate equations for crop income, livestock income, and nonagricultural income jointly in a system using the seemingly unrelated regressions (SUR) and general method of moments (GMM) three-stage least-squares (3SLS) estimators. Our results show that international migration had diverse effects on different sources of rural income in Kyrgyzstan. The effect of international migration in total was negative on crop income, but positive on livestock income and mixed for nonagricultural income. The positive effect of remittances on nonagricultural income implies that migration can promote diversification of rural households’ income sources. This in turn is associated with less income uncertainty and risk in the future and can provide a positive contribution to the economic development of a migrant-sending community.

Cet article analyse les impacts de la migration internationale et des envois internationaux de fonds sur différentes sources de revenus dans les régions rurales du Kirghizistan. Sur la base d’un ensemble de données issues de l’enquête sur la vie au Kirghizistan effectué sur 1012 foyers ruraux, nous estimons de façon conjointe les équations des revenus issus des cultures, du bétail et des revenus non agricoles grâce à un système utilisant les estimateurs SUR et GMM 3SLS. Nos résultats montrent que la migration internationale a eu des effets variés sur les différentes sources de revenus ruraux au Kirghizistan. L’effet de la migration internationale était dans son ensemble négatif sur le revenu des cultures, mais positif sur le revenu du bétail et mixte pour les revenus non agricoles. L’effet positif des envois internationaux de fonds sur les revenus non agricoles implique que la migration peut favoriser la diversification des sources de revenus des ménages ruraux. Ceci est à son tour associé à moins d’incertitude liée aux revenus et moins de risque pour le futur et peut apporter une contribution positive au développement économique d’une communauté dont sont issus des migrants.

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Figure 2

Source: Own illustration based on National Statistical Committee data.


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We would like to thank the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) for providing access to the data from the Life in Kyrgyzstan survey. We also thank the participants of the IAAE Inter-Conference Symposium in April 2016 in Almaty, Kazakhstan and the participants of the IAMO Forum in June 2016 in Halle, Germany for their useful comments. This paper also benefited substantially from the discussion at the Scientific and Research Seminar at the Institute of Agricultural Policy and Market Research, JLU Giessen. Financial support from the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom for Eliza Zhunusova is gratefully acknowledged. The views expressed in this paper are of the authors only and do not reflect those of their institution. This study was conducted while Eliza Zhunusova was working as a Research Fellow at the Institute of Agricultural Policy and Market Research at the University of Giessen.

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Correspondence to Eliza Zhunusova.

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Zhunusova, E., Herrmann, R. Development Impacts of International Migration on “Sending” Communities: The Case of Rural Kyrgyzstan. Eur J Dev Res 30, 871–891 (2018).

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  • international migration
  • remittances
  • crop income
  • rural income diversification
  • Kyrgyzstan