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The Logic of Letting Go: Family and Individual Migration from rural Bangladesh

The Logic of Letting Go: Family and Individual Migration from rural Bangladesh

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Published by Randall Kuhn
Under review, Population Studes. It is now understood that voluntary and forced migration constitute a continuum, yet this paper is among the first studies to develop a theoretical test of these connections. Processes of family migration that drive the global growth of informal settlements are driven by structural factors such as environmental degradation and considerable individual selectivity. This paper introduces a three-outcome model in which individual and family migration constitute distinct family livelihood strategies: individual migration supplementation rural livelihoods while family migration replaces a rural livelihood with an urban one. I test this model using 14 years of migration data from the rural Matlab area of Bangladesh. Family migration becomes more likely than individual migration for men with very low household land holdings. This effect is exacerbated during the period following a catastrophic flood, when the likelihood of family migration rose, particularly for landless men.
Under review, Population Studes. It is now understood that voluntary and forced migration constitute a continuum, yet this paper is among the first studies to develop a theoretical test of these connections. Processes of family migration that drive the global growth of informal settlements are driven by structural factors such as environmental degradation and considerable individual selectivity. This paper introduces a three-outcome model in which individual and family migration constitute distinct family livelihood strategies: individual migration supplementation rural livelihoods while family migration replaces a rural livelihood with an urban one. I test this model using 14 years of migration data from the rural Matlab area of Bangladesh. Family migration becomes more likely than individual migration for men with very low household land holdings. This effect is exacerbated during the period following a catastrophic flood, when the likelihood of family migration rose, particularly for landless men.

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Published by: Randall Kuhn on Dec 18, 2010
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11/10/2011

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 The Logic of Letting Go: Family and Individual Migration from RuralBangladesh
Running Head: Family and Individual Migration from Rural BangladeshRandall S. Kuhn
*
 Josef Korbel School of International StudiesUniversity of DenverOctober 2010* The author gratefully acknowledges the support of the International Pre-DissertationFellowship of the Social Science Research Council (supported by Ford Foundation andAmerican Council of Learned Societies); the J. William Fulbright Scholarship (funded by UnitedStates Information Agency, administered by Institute for International Education); the PopulationCouncil Dissertation Fellowship in the Social Sciences; the Mellon Fund for Research inPopulation in Developing Countries; and the University of Colorado Population Aging Center(funded by National Institute on Aging). Many provided valuable commentary on the paper,including Jane Menken, Douglas Massey, Leah Vanwey, Robert Retherford, Jeroen vanGinneken, Lynn Karoly, Erin Trapp, Julie DaVanzo, Richard Rogers, Fernando Riosmena, TaniaBarham, and Linda Mamoun. Most of all, the author wishes to thank the research and technicalstaff of the Matlab Health and Demographic Surveillance Unit at ICDDR,B: International Centrefor Health and Population Research, and the patient and thoughtful citizens of Matlab.
Author’s Contact Information
 Randall KuhnJosef Korbel School of International Studies2201 S. Gaylord St.Denver, CO 80208rkuhn@du.edu 
 
Kuhn
Abstract
It is now understood that voluntary and forced migration constitute a continuum, yet this paper isamong the first studies to develop a theoretical test of these connections. Processes of familymigration that drive the global growth of informal settlements are driven by structural factorssuch as environmental degradation and considerable individual selectivity. This paper introducesa three-outcome model in which individual and family migration constitute distinct familylivelihood strategies: individual migration supplementation rural livelihoods while familymigration replaces a rural livelihood with an urban one. I test this model using 14 years of migration data from the rural Matlab area of Bangladesh. Family migration becomes more likelythan individual migration for men with very low household land holdings. This effect isexacerbated during the period following a catastrophic flood, when the likelihood of familymigration rose, particularly for landless men.Keywords: Rural-Urban Migration, Family Migration, Bangladesh, Developing Countries
 
Introduction
Recent years have witnessed increasing concern about the growth of informal settlements orslums in the megacities and rapidly emerging towns of the developing world. Informalsettlements pose many inherent challenges relating to the lack of property rights or tenure,inaccessibility to markets and public services, and overcrowding (UN-Habitat 2003; Davis2006). Yet the roots of many of these challenges lie in the underlying forces of economicdeprivation, social exclusion, and environmental degradation --
so called “push factors”
-- thatdrive rural-urban migration in the first place. Efforts to address the needs and harness thecapabilities of rural-urban migrants thus require an indepth understanding of the ruralvulnerabilities and selectivity behind the migration process.Social scientists have developed an acute understanding of the heterogeneity in themotivations for migration, particularly in relation to family livelihoods (Lindstrom and Lauster,2001; Massey and Espinosa, 1997). The New Economics of Labour Migration has movedmigration theory beyond the simple idea of the lone migrant in search of personal advancementby accounting for the role of migration in ensuring the collective security and livelihood of afamily unit living in two places at once (Stark 1991; VanWey, 2001). Contextual models accountfor the role of ecological resources and other entitlements in individual- and family-leveldecisions (Hunter 1998, 2005; Ezra and Kiros 2001; Henry et al. 2004; Massey et al. 2009).Despite progress, few studies have addressed the distinct livelihood functions of differentmodes of migration and their underlying forces of selectivity. One distinguishing characteristicof many informal settlement dwellers is the movement of an entire family unit to the city, or
 family migration
, as opposed to the movement of only those family members most likely to findemployment in the city, or
individual migration
. Family migration poses numerous challengesfor migrants and for planners, including residential overcrowding, the need to provide social and

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