Migration, poverty and source communities

Authored by: Robert Cole , Jonathan Rigg

Routledge Handbook of Asian Migrations

Print publication date:  December  2017
Online publication date:  January  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138959859
eBook ISBN: 9781315660493
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter explores debates surrounding migration, poverty and source communities in Southeast Asia, noting at the outset the limits and dangers of generalisation. We apply a framework that maps causality and consequence in a given migration context to four indeterminacies, or areas of contention, thus allowing us to account for and explain migration’s diverse outcomes. These are the analytic applied to understanding migration and poverty (e.g. econometric versus multidimensional approaches); the object of attention (such as migrant households or wider community contexts); the challenge of comparison (between sites, regions and countries); and the role of temporality (the developmental impact of migration over time). Whether migration is distress-induced for the poor or developmental for the non-poor, migrants do not just ‘escape’ from problem conditions in source communities; they play a critical role in reshaping those conditions, and thus the futures of source communities themselves.

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