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Environment and Behavior

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Motivations for and Satisfaction with Migration: An Analysis of Migrants to New Delhi, Dhaka, and
Islamabad
R. Barry Ruback, Janak Pandey, Hamida Akhtar Begum, Naeem Tariq and Anila Kamal
Environment and Behavior 2004; 36; 814
DOI: 10.1177/0013916504264948
The online version of this article can be found at:
http://eab.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/36/6/814

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ENVIRONMENT
10.1177/0013916504264948
Ruback
et al. / MOTIVATIONS
AND BEHAVIOR
FOR /AND
November
SATISFACTION
2004
WITH MIGRATION

MOTIVATIONS FOR AND


SATISFACTION WITH MIGRATION
An Analysis of Migrants to
New Delhi, Dhaka, and Islamabad
R. BARRY RUBACK is a professor of crime, law, & justice and sociology at Pennsylvania State University. He was a Fulbright Fellow, an Indo-American Fellow, and
a Fulbright-Hays Fellow for research in India and was a Fulbright South Asia Regional Scholar for research in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. His primary interests
are in psychology and law and in environmental psychology.
JANAK PANDEY, Ph.D. from Kansas State University, is currently a professor of
psychology and head of the Centre of Advanced Study in Psychology, University of
Allahabad, India. He has been a Fulbright Scholar-In-Residence at Wake Forest University and Visiting Commonwealth Fellow at the University of Manitoba. In 1988 he
edited a three-volume set of Psychology in India: State of the Art. Another threevolume set, Psychology in India: State of the Art Revisited, has recently been published. He has coedited Asian Contributions to Cross-Cultural Psychology and the
Handbook of Cross-Cultural Psychology (Vol. 1). He is a past president of the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology. He specializes in social and
cross-cultural psychology, with an emphasis on contemporary issues related to the
environment and development.
HAMIDA AKHTAR BEGUM is a professor of psychology at the University of
Dhaka. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Manitoba. She was the editor of
the Bangladesh Journal of Psychology and is the current editor of Bangladesh Psychological Studies. She has a wide range of research interests in social psychology
and womens issues.
NAEEM TARIQ is a professor of psychology at the National Institute of Psychology, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. His current research interests include
AUTHORS NOTE: This research was supported by a Fulbright South Asia Regional
Scholar Award and sabbatical leave from Pennsylvania State University to the first
author, and by the Centre for Advanced Study in Psychology and the Centre for
Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences, Department of Psychology, University of
Allahabad.
ENVIRONMENT AND BEHAVIOR, Vol. 36 No. 6, November 2004 814-838
DOI: 10.1177/0013916504264948
2004 Sage Publications

814

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Ruback et al. / MOTIVATIONS FOR AND SATISFACTION WITH MIGRATION 815

studying childrens and adolescents behavior problems and developing preventive


interventions.
ANILA KAMAL is an associate professor at the National Institute of Psychology,
Centre of Excellence, Quaid-i-Azam University. Her current areas of interest are psychology of gender, social psychology, and psychometry. She is an associate editor of
Psychological Research and an editor of Pakistan Psychological Abstracts.

ABSTRACT: Male and female residents of seven slums in New Delhi, India, four
slums in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and four slums in Islamabad, Pakistan, were interviewed about their reasons for migrating to and their satisfaction with their city.
Although the single most commonly reported reason for moving was in search of
work, significant proportions of migrants gave multiple reasons, and, particularly in
Dhaka and Islamabad, many respondents partly attributed their move to fate. Results
suggested that the attribution to fate was not due to either religion or poverty, but was
related to perceived personal control. More generally, the reasons that respondents
gave for migrating to the city were significantly related to their mental and physical
health, to their ratings of their home and the city environment, and to their satisfaction
with the city.
Keywords:

migration; environmental stressors; fate; culture; religion

Of the 2.4 billion people in the world who live in cities, 60% live in less
developed areas, and this percentage is increasing. In South Asia, for example, the average annual growth rate of cities is 3.4%, more than four times the
growth rate of cities in high-income countries (World Bank, 1997, pp. 230231). Much of this growth is the result of in-migration from rural areas. In
India, for instance, about 45% of urban growth is the product of rural to urban
migration (Todaro, 1989), a trend that has continued since the 1920s
(Sharma, 1997; Weiner, 1978). Moreover, especially in less developed
regions like South Asia, this urbanization is often concentrated among a few
large cities (United Nations, 1991). When these migrants come to the cities,
they are likely to live in high-density slums with inadequate municipal services (Rao, 1986). As more and more economically deprived migrants come
to the cities, these slums account for larger and larger proportions of the population. For example, in Calcutta, 67% of the population lives in slums and
squatter settlements (Todaro, 1989).
At the macrolevel, migration is the result of three types of factors (Todaro,
1989): physical factors (e.g., climate), demographic factors (e.g., the reduction in mortality rates in rural areas), and communication factors (e.g., better
transportation). These macrolevel factors are important because they can

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816 ENVIRONMENT AND BEHAVIOR / November 2004

provide a needed perspective on why, for example, individual decisions to


migrate are generally from rural to urban areas (Pedraza, 1991).
In contrast to macrolevel analyses, which rely on aggregate information,
individual-level analyses of migration are often more difficult to conduct
because they involve the collection of such individual-level data as economic
factors (e.g., comparing urban wages with rural subsistence income), social
factors that cause migrants to want to avoid the constraints of traditional society, and a host of cultural factors relating to the attractiveness of the city
(Todaro, 1989). Because of the difficulty and expense of conducting the necessary individual-level surveys, most studies of individual-level migration
have examined migrants in only one country. Thus, because methods, questions, and samples are generally different across studies, comparisons across
countries of migrants motivations for and satisfaction with their move are
generally problematic. The present study advances the literature by examining reasons for and satisfaction with migration to three capital cities in South
Asia: New Delhi, India; Dhaka, Bangladesh; and Islamabad, Pakistan.
REASONS FOR MIGRATION

Although migration can be involuntary, as with war and natural disasters,


migration is most often voluntary. Since Ravenstein (1885), demographers
have known that economic motives are the primary reason for migration
(Lee, 1966). Thus, most individual-level analyses of migration have been
based on rational choice models from microeconomics, which assume that
migration is instrumental in helping individuals improve their lives and the
lives of their children (Sjaastad, 1962).
However, for three reasons, it is problematic to focus exclusively on economic explanations for migration. First, although migrants are concerned
with employment and labor market conditions (Greenwood, 1985), they may
be motivated to migrate to a city because they want to leave negative social
and physical conditions, such as disputes with family members or other villagers. Second, they may be attracted to a city by noneconomic factors, such
as the presence of friends and relatives in the destination city. These social
networks of individuals at the receiving location are important because they
can lower the direct costs of migration (e.g., by providing a place to stay), the
opportunity costs of migration (e.g., by reducing the amount of time before
the migrant finds employment), and the psychic costs of migration (e.g.,
reducing the migrants sense of dislocation and vulnerability) (Massey &
Espana, 1987). Research on migration usually does not inquire into the
nature of the migrants social network in the destination city (De Jong, 1999).
Knowing about these networks is important for the urban poor in South Asia

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Ruback et al. / MOTIVATIONS FOR AND SATISFACTION WITH MIGRATION 817

because they are likely to rely heavily on kinship, caste, and village networks
and, thus, groups with these common links are likely to live near each other in
the city (Singh, 1984).
Third, migrants might explain their moving by reference to factors that are
unrelated to both their home area and their destination city. In particular, it is
important to ask about beliefs in nonmaterial causes, such as fate. Fate refers
to the sense that events are predestined, inevitable, and under the control of
an external power (Pepitone & Saffiotti, 1997). Consistent with this definition, in their analysis of peoples interpretations of life events, Pepitone and
Saffiotti (1997) found that American college students tended to use fate as an
explanation for important activities that appeared preordained. This finding
was somewhat stronger in a sample of college graduates in India, a sample
evenly split among Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims. Differences
between religious groups were not reported.
That individuals use their beliefs in nonmaterial causes such as fate to
understand events suggests that research on migration that focuses exclusively on a rational choice model employing a cost/benefit analysis will not
completely characterize individuals who believe there are sometimes other
factors controlling the outcomes in their life. Our pilot research had indicated
that fate was a common explanation for events, particularly among the
socially and economically vulnerable individuals who constituted our sample. Thus, we expected individuals who do not own land and who do not work
in organized sectors of the economy (i.e., they do not have salaried employment) to be more likely to take events as they occur rather than to make
planned decisions. More generally, we expected attributions to fate to be
related to low perceived control. Believing that one has control over outcomes has several positive effects. It enhances self-esteem, feelings of freedom, and perceived competence. Control is so desired that individuals sometimes believe they have control even when, objectively, they do not (Langer,
1975). In contrast to perceived control, the perception of no control leads to
anxiety and is related to lower motivation and poorer health (Langer &
Rodin, 1976).
In the present study, we address the weaknesses of prior research by (a)
asking respondents about reasons for migration in addition to job-related and
economic reasons; (b) inquiring about negative aspects of the home area; (c)
asking migrants specifically whether they had family or friends in the destination city; and (d) asking about the role of fate. In addition, we attempt to
determine the factors that are related to the reasons migrants give for moving
to the city and how these reasons are related to migrants satisfaction with
their move.

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818 ENVIRONMENT AND BEHAVIOR / November 2004


SATISFACTION WITH MIGRATION

Once they have moved to the city, migrants should be satisfied with their
move if their new conditions are perceived to be better than the conditions
they left. In this study, we were interested generally in migrants satisfaction
with the city and specifically in how migrants reasons for their move related
to their satisfaction with the city. Satisfaction can be measured both directly,
in terms of explicit questions relating to contentment, and indirectly, in terms
of ratings of aspects of the city, such as environmental stressors.
The ultimate measure of migrants satisfaction with their new location is
whether they desire to return to their home area. Most research on migrants
satisfaction does not include such an item, nor does this research typically
ask about reasons why migrants might want to return to their home area. The
present research addressed these problems by asking respondents whether or
not they wanted to return to their home area and, for those who said they did,
asking them whether each of 11 different reasons was a motivating factor.
HYPOTHESES

Consistent with prior research, we expected that migration to three capital


cities in South Asia would be primarily the result of economic factors, and
specifically, we expected that a search for work would be the primary reason
why individuals would migrate to the cities. However, we also expected that
migrants would give other reasons for moving and that these reasons might
differ across the cities. In particular, we thought that respondents might differ
in the extent to which they attributed their behavior to fate (a) because there
were religious differences in the migrants in that most of the migrants to
Dhaka and Islamabad were Muslim, whereas migrants to New Delhi were
primarily Hindu; and (b) because Dhaka was a much poorer country, based
on the gross national products of the countries. If religion and poverty are
linked to a fatalistic view of life, then we might expect differences between
countries in their endorsement of fate as a reason for migration.

METHOD

The data for this study were collected in three capital cities in South
AsiaNew Delhi (India), Dhaka (Bangladesh), and Islamabad (Pakistan)
in connection with an examination of slum residents reactions to environmental stressors (Ruback, Begum, Tariq, Kamal, & Pandey, 2002; Ruback &
Pandey, 2002). All three cities are capitals in the same region of the world.

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They have similarities in terms of climate and geography, and they have
shared histories, particularly during the past 500 years as part of the Moghul
Empire in the 16th and 17th centuries, and as part of British India in the 18th,
19th, and 20th centuries. They differ, however, in terms of dominant religion
and political history since independence.
Delhi, located on the western bank of the Yamuna River on the northern
Gangetic plain, was the capital of many kingdoms before the British colonial
period, and, as New Delhi, it was the capital of British India from 1911 to
1947. Since 1947, it has been the capital of India. In 1991, New Delhi had a
population of 8.4 million (United Nations, 1998) and had about 4% of the
countrys urban population (United Nations, 1991).
Dhaka, located on the Buriganga River in central Bangladesh, was the
provincial capital in the 17th century and one of the major cities of the eastern
part of the Moghul empire in the 18th century. It was the capital of East Bengal during British colonial rule and the capital of East Pakistan from 1947 to
1971. It became the capital of Bangladesh when the country gained independence in 1971 and is the largest and fastest growing city in Bangladesh. In
1991, Dhaka had a population of 3.4 million (United Nations, 1998) and
accounted for 35% of the countrys urban population (United Nations, 1991).
Islamabad, which became the capital of Pakistan in 1967, is a planned city
of 65 square kilometers divided into eight zones: administrative, diplomatic,
residential, institutional, industrial, commercial, greenbelt, and national
park. The city was constructed between 1961 and 1967 on former farmland
14 km from Rawalpindi, an old city that served as the interim capital of Pakistan while Islamabad was being constructed. Surrounding the city is a capital
area of approximately 906 square kilometers. In 1981 (the most recent year
for which data are available), Islamabad and Rawalpindi together had a population of just under 1 million.
PARTICIPANTS

Participants in the study were 493 individuals: 111 in New Delhi, 234 in
Dhaka, and 148 in Islamabad. For two reasons we limited our analyses to
those migrants who had moved to the three capital cities within the prior 10
years. First, with the passage of time, people may forget or distort their initial
motivations for migrating. Thus, it would be important that the time period of
residence be long enough for people to know their new city but not so long
that they do not remember their reasons for migrating. Second, at some point,
a migrant becomes a resident. Admittedly, the 10-year mark we chose is
somewhat arbitrary. However, the substantive results we report below are

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820 ENVIRONMENT AND BEHAVIOR / November 2004

basically the same whether the cutoff is higher or lower than that which we
have chosen.
INTERVIEW INSTRUMENT

The questionnaire consisted of 89 items, most of which were derived from


our prior studies of crowding in a medium-sized city and in rural villages
(e.g., Ruback & Pandey, 1991, 1996). The questionnaire was developed in
Allahabad, India, and most of the items were originally written in Hindi.
Consistent with standard practice in cross-cultural psychology, those scales
originally written in English were translated into Hindi and then backtranslated into English. The original and backtranslated versions were then
compared to make sure that the meaning was adequately captured. The items
taken from established scales were those judged to be culturally appropriate.
The questionnaire used in Dhaka was translated into Bengali by bilingual
speakers in Allahabad, India and then checked and corrected by native
Bangladeshis (Ruback et al., 2002). Similarly, the questionnaire used in
Islamabad was translated into Urdu by bilingual speakers in Allahabad, India
and then checked and corrected by native Pakistanis (Ruback et al., 2002).
Only those items used in the present analyses are described here.
First, respondents were asked for basic descriptive information, including
age, religion, occupation, education (measured on a 8-point scale: illiterate,
literate, primary school, middle school, secondary school, some college,
completed college, postcollege education), and years in the city. Second,
respondents were asked about mental distress and physical symptoms. One
scale assessed eight symptoms of mental distress (confused, strained, lonely,
depressed, nervous, restless, worthless, and no interest in things; alphas for
New Delhi, Dhaka, and Islamabad = .87, .61, and .84, respectively). A composite Mental Distress score was created by dividing each item by its standard deviation and then summing the eight items. This section also included
a scale, adapted from Pennebaker, Burnam, Schaeffer, and Harper (1977),
assessing how often respondents reported experiencing 13 physical symptoms (headache, racing heart, severe itching, shortness of breath, ringing
ears, upset stomach, congested nose, sweaty hands, watery eyes, chest pains,
stiff muscles, flushed face, dizziness; alphas for New Delhi, Dhaka, and
Islamabad = .77, .77, and .82, respectively). A composite Symptoms score
was created by summing responses across the 13 items. In addition, respondents were asked whether any of 20 different life events (e.g., death of a
friend, theft of property) had occurred during the prior year. This life-events
scale was adapted from a scale by Sarason, Johnson, and Siegel (1978).

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Ten items were adapted from Levensons (1973) scale measuring perceived control, with seven items assessing perceived personal control and
three assessing perceived control by God. The seven personal control items
(Most of the time my success depends on my ability; When I think about
my work, I am confident that I can complete my plans; The number of
friends I have depends on the kind of person I am; Most of the time I determine what will happen to me; Most of the time I can protect my personal
interests; What I get I earn through hard work; and My life depends on
my own actions) were each divided by their standard deviation and summed
to form a composite Personal Control measure (alpha = .52).1 The three items
assessing perceived control by God (My life is controlled by Gods purpose; My life is controlled by Gods will; God answers my prayers)
were similarly each divided by their standard deviation and summed to form
a composite God Control measure (alpha = .60). 2
Respondents in each of the cities rated seven different environmental
stressors (noise, water pollution, garbage, air pollution, crowding, crime, and
traffic). These ratings were combined into a composite Environmental
Stressor score (alpha = .91). In a final section, the interviewer independently
made observations about the home, including noting which of 11 items (e.g.,
cycle, scooter, chairs, light) were present in the home. By absolute standards, the migrants were poor, in that the overall average was 2.7 items. The
cities did not differ significantly in the amount of property that respondent
migrants owned, F(2, 490) = 1.32, ns.
QUESTIONS RELATING TO MIGRATION

In addition to these general questions, three groups of questions were


directly relevant to migration. One group of questions related directly to
migrants motivations for moving to the city. The specific instructions were
as follows:
There may be a number of reasons for leaving a village or town to come to this
city. Please tell me which of the following reasons are true in your case.

Our assumption in asking the question as we did was that migration might
be motivated by one, or more than one, reason. Thus, we gave respondents the
opportunity to indicate up to six explanations for their migration to the city.
For each of six items, respondents indicated by saying yes or no
whether the reason influenced their decision to immigrate to the city: (a) to
search for work or to follow husband who found work; (b) to avoid family
and village disputes; (c) to enhance their prestige in society; (d) to live with a

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822 ENVIRONMENT AND BEHAVIOR / November 2004

relative or friend in the city; (e) to avoid exploitation in the village; or (f) their
fate brought them there. These items had been identified during pilot studies
as the most common reasons migrants gave for coming to the city. The item
about work was asked in terms of seeking work or following a husband who
has found work because a woman in South Asia, and most places in the world
(see Pedraza, 1991), would be expected to follow her husband to the city. The
word for fate in each of the languages used in this study (bhagya in Hindi
and Bengali; kismet in Urdu) denoted a cause that was external to and uncontrollable by the person and implied that there was some predestination involved.
A second group of questions related to migrants satisfaction with their
move to the city. Respondents were also asked to make a direct comparison
between the city and their village in terms of whether raising their children in
the city was better or worse than raising them in their home area. Because this
rating was not significantly related to any of the questions about migration, it
is not discussed further. In addition to this direct comparison, migrants satisfaction was measured indirectly with measures of their mental distress, physical symptoms, and ratings of environmental stressors. In addition, respondents were asked to indicate the extent to which (a) they believed that people
in the city do not care about what happens to others (No Caring); (b) they
believe that in the case of a mishap no one will help (No Help); and (c) they
feel lost in the city (Feel Lost). Higher scores on these measures indicated
greater dissatisfaction with the city. Because these last three items were not
significantly correlated, they are examined separately.
The final group of questions related to migrants desire to return to their
home area and, if so, what reasons influenced their wish to return to their village. Specifically, immigrants were asked whether each of 11 different factors (crowding, illness, dirt, polluted air, dirty water, lack of space, lack of
money, domination or disputes, loss of identity, fate, and accumulation of
money) was a reason why they wanted to return to their village.
To deal with the high rates of illiteracy of the respondents and to keep the
procedure constant across participants and cities, the interviewers read every
question to all respondents. Many of the questions required simply yes or no
responses or a number (e.g., the number of years they had lived in the city). A
few questions (e.g., the frequency of physical symptoms) were answered on a
four-point scale: never, sometimes, often, always. A final group of questions,
dealing with agreement or disagreement with a particular item, were asked in
a two-step procedure developed by the Department of Psychology at the University of Allahabad in connection with a large-scale survey of rural villages
(Tripathi et al., 1988). In the first stage, respondents were asked whether they
agreed or disagreed with the item. Then, in the second stage, they were asked
whether they agreed (or disagreed) a lot or just a little.

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Ruback et al. / MOTIVATIONS FOR AND SATISFACTION WITH MIGRATION 823


PROCEDURE

In all three cities, we chose large, well-known slums, which were large
concentrations of poor individuals, most of whom had migrated to the city.
Some of the slums in New Delhi had existed for at least two decades, and thus
conditions were more settled there than in the more recently established conditions in Dhaka and Islamabad. Within each slum, we sampled every other
house. Because of cultural norms regarding interactions with strangers, interviewers interviewed only same-sex respondents. A male or a female interviewer went to the sampled house and asked to speak to the same-sex head of
household. Thus, in a set of four houses, there would be a house in which no
one was interviewed, a house in which the male head of household was interviewed, a house in which no one was interviewed, and a house in which the
female head of household was interviewed. Refusal rates were very low.
In New Delhi, seven male and seven female students interviewed respondents from seven different slums. In Dhaka, six male and six female students
interviewed respondents from four different slums. In Islamabad, four male
and four female students interviewed respondents from four different slums,
three of which were near the boundary between Islamabad and Rawalpindi.
The interviewers were all graduate students or advanced undergraduates,
who were extensively trained as interviewers, including conducting practice
interviews with participants similar to the studys respondents and discussing
these practice interviews in detail with the primary investigators. In addition,
at least one primary investigator was always available in the field to answer
interviewers questions.
The interviewers explained to the respondents that the purpose of the
study was to understand peoples judgments about their home, neighborhood, and the larger city and about factors that might be related to these judgments. They were then asked if they would be willing to participate in the
study. No one at this stage refused to give consent. Most of the respondents
were glad to have participated, and many, despite their poverty, offered the
interviewers some refreshment.

RESULTS

The results begin with a description of the samples in the three cities, and
then there is a description of the reasons respondents gave for immigrating to
the capital cities with the relation of these reasons to gender and city. Then,
results are given for six indirect measures of satisfaction with the city. Next,
within each city there is a comparison of individuals who said they would like

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824 ENVIRONMENT AND BEHAVIOR / November 2004

to return to their village to individuals who said they preferred to stay in the
city. Finally, there is an analysis of the reasons these individuals gave for
wanting to return to their village.
DESCRIPTION OF THE SAMPLE

We briefly describe the samples in each of the three cities in terms of gender, age, religion, education, and tenure in the city.
New Delhi. Respondents in New Delhi were 44 men and 67 women, who
ranged in age from 16 to 60 (M = 28.8; Mdn = 28.0). The majority of them
(73%) were Hindu. Another 25% were Muslim, and about 2% were Christian. Of the Hindus, most were members of the backward classes (47%). Of
the remaining Hindus, 30% were from the upper class, 16% were from the
lower class (called Harijans or Dalits), and 7% were from other classes. In
terms of education, 43% were illiterate, 15% had some education, 11% had
completed primary school, 12% had completed middle school, and the remainder (19%) had completed at least high school.
The respondents had lived in New Delhi from less than 1 year to 10 years
(M = 6.6; Mdn = 7.0). Most of the migrants had moved from the northern
Indian states of Uttar Pradesh (61%) and Bihar (21%), with the rest coming
from seven other states in India.
Dhaka. Participants in Dhaka were 100 men and 134 women ranging in
age from 17 to 70 (M = 31.2; Mdn = 30.0). More than 99% of the respondents were Muslim (one non-Muslim was Hindu, and the other was Christian). In terms of education, 51% were illiterate, 16% had some education,
24% had completed primary school, and 9% had completed at least middle
school. The respondents had lived in Dhaka from less than 1 year to 10 years
(M = 5.5; Mdn = 5.0). All of the migrants had come from rural areas of
Bangladesh.
Islamabad. Participants in Islamabad were 66 men and 82 women ranging
in age from 16 to 75 (M = 37.0; Mdn = 35.0). About 84% of the respondents
were Muslim, and the remaining 16% were Christian (residents of a colony
of sweepers who were squatting on public land in the city). In terms of education, 85% were illiterate, 4% had some education, 6% had completed primary
school, and the remaining 5% had completed at least middle school.
The respondents had lived in Islamabad from less than 1 year to 10 years
(M = 6.0; Mdn = 6.0). Most of the migrants had moved from the Northwest
Frontier Province (82%), with a smaller number (12%) coming from the

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Ruback et al. / MOTIVATIONS FOR AND SATISFACTION WITH MIGRATION 825

Punjab. The remaining 6% came from three other states in Pakistan. In addition to these 148 migrants from within Pakistan, there were 41 migrants from
Afghanistan. Below, in a separate analysis, we compare the Afghani and
Pakistani migrants.
Migration status. A 2 3 (gender country) analysis of variance of the
amount of time immigrants had spent in the city revealed a significant effect
for gender, F(1, 487) = 9.15, p < .01, and a significant effect for country,
F(2, 487) = 5.50, p < .01. Men had lived in the city longer (M = 6.4 yrs) than
had women (M = 5.6 yrs). Our sample of migrants to New Delhi had lived in
the city significantly longer (M = 6.6 yrs) than our sample of migrants to
Dhaka (M = 5.5 yrs), according to a post-hoc Newman-Keuls test (p < .05).
Migrants to Islamabad (M = 6.0 yrs) did not differ significantly in their tenure
in the city from the migrants to the other cities.
IMMIGRATION TO THE CITY

Across the three cities, the six reasons for leaving their village and going
to the city were ordered in terms of percentage agreement as follows: (a) in
search of work; (b) fate; (c) enhance prestige in society; (d) relative or friend
in the city; (e) avoid family dispute; and (f) avoid exploitation in the village.
As shown in Table 1, however, without controlling for other factors, there
were significant differences across countries in the number of respondents
who endorsed the first four reasons. In New Delhi, immigrants left their villages almost exclusively in search of work. In Dhaka, immigrants left their
villages in search of work and because of fate. In Islamabad, immigrants
left their villages because of fate, in search of work, and to enhance their
prestige. Across countries, one sixth of respondents had a relative or friend
in the city, although the percentage ranged from 12% in Dhaka to 24% in
Islamabad.
Of the 493 respondents, 140 (28%) gave only one reason for migrating, and of these, 118 respondents (84%) gave work as their only reason for
migrating. There was a difference by country in the extent to which work was
the only reason given, in that of those who gave only one reason, 92% of
Indian respondents, 94% of Bangladeshi respondents, but only 42% of Pakistani respondents gave this as their only reason. Because 72% of the respondents gave more than one reason for migrating, we were also interested in the
way these different motives were combined. The most common combination
was work and fate, given by 302 (61%) of respondents. The next most common combinations were work and prestige (n = 163; 33%) and fate and prestige (n = 157; 32%). Whereas work was the reason most commonly used by

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826 ENVIRONMENT AND BEHAVIOR / November 2004


TABLE 1
Percentage Agreeing With Reasons for Migrating, by City

Reason for
Leaving Village

Rank
in Terms
New Delhi
of Endorsement (n = 111)
Across Cities (%)
%

In search of work/
Husband gets job
Fate
Enhance prestige in
society
Relative or friend in
the city
Avoid family dispute
Avoid exploitation in
the village

Dhaka Islamabad
(n = 234) (n = 148)
%
%

91
67

92
31

96
71

82
89

21.12***
98.60***

35

35

53

57.60***

17
8

17
10

12
8

24
7

10.71**
.85

.50

NOTE: Within each row, the chi-square (with Yates correction) is a test of whether the proportions of
respondents endorsing the reason varied significantly across the three countries.
*p < .05. **p < .01. ***p < .001.

itself, fate was the reason most commonly used in combination with one or
more factors.
The difference across cities in the extent to which work was endorsed as a
reason is probably a reflection of the poverty in the different countries. The
fact that there was significant variation among cities in the extent to which the
rationale fate was endorsed is more difficult to explain, as there may be cultural as well as economic reasons for the difference. To investigate this question, we first analyzed how endorsement of fate was related to other factors
about the migrants. Migrants who said they moved because of fate, compared
to migrants who did not, were significantly older (Ms = 33.6 vs. 29.1),
t(472) = 4.30, p < .001, had significantly less education (Ms = 1.69 vs. 2.43),
t(470) = 5.72, p < .001, had experienced significantly more negative life
events (Ms = 3.82 vs. 3.07), t(478) = 3.78, were significantly more likely to
believe that God controls their lives (Ms = 12.80 vs. 8.73), t(473) = 5.69, p <
.001, and had significantly less perceived personal control (Ms = 9.94 vs.
12.46), t(468) = 3.15, p < .001. Migrants who endorsed fate as a reason for
their move did not differ from those who did not endorse fate in the amount of
property they owned (Ms = 2.58 vs. 2.85), t(478) = 1.62, ns.
The finding that fate was associated with city could be due to religion in
that virtually all of the Hindus in the study were in New Delhi, whereas most
of the Muslims were in Dhaka and Islamabad. To test this possibility, we conducted a second analysis in which we compared Hindus and Muslims in New

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Ruback et al. / MOTIVATIONS FOR AND SATISFACTION WITH MIGRATION 827

Delhi on the endorsement of fate as a reason for migration and on their beliefs
about God. Hindus and Muslims did not differ in their endorsement of these
items (all ts < 1.00). This absence of difference suggests that religion is not
the basis for the differential endorsement of fate as a reason for migration.
We summed the number of reasons endorsed by respondents for immigrating to the city to form a composite score that ranged from 0 to 6 (M =
2.23; Mdn = 2.00) because we assumed that individuals who reported more
reasons for their move were more strongly motivated to do so. Respondents
in Islamabad endorsed significantly more reasons (M = 2.60) than did
respondents in Dhaka (M = 2.28), and respondents in Dhaka endorsed significantly more reasons than did respondents in New Delhi (M = 1.63), F(2, 490) =
27.48, p < .001. This pattern is consistent with the fact that the macro-level
conditions (e.g., poverty) were worse for the migrants to Islamabad and
Dhaka than for migrants to New Delhi.
PREDICTORS OF EACH REASON

To understand how individual and contextual factors might relate to the


decision to migrate to the city, we used a logistic regression analysis for each
of the six reasons we asked respondents. As predictors, we used city (employing two dummy codes with New Delhi as the reference category), gender, the respondents age, the respondents education, and the composite
property score (as an indicator of the persons economic status).
The reason of finding work or husband finding work was significantly
predicted only by gender, with males choosing this item more than females.
The reason of fate was significantly predicted only by the two dummy variables for city, with migrants to Dhaka and migrants to Islamabad significantly more likely to endorse fate than were migrants to New Delhi. Similarly, the reason of enhancing prestige was significantly predicted only by the
two dummy variables for city, with migrants to Dhaka and migrants to Islamabad both significantly more likely to endorse this item than were migrants to
New Delhi. In terms of having a relative or friend in the city, respondents in
Islamabad, women, and younger respondents were more likely than others to
endorse this reason. The last two reasons we inquired about dealt with problems in the home area. Neither one of the model chi squares reached significance, and no individual factors were significant predictors.
RATINGS OF SELF, HOME, AND CITY

To determine whether the reasons that respondents gave for migrating to


the city were related to their mental distress, physical health, and evaluation

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828 ENVIRONMENT AND BEHAVIOR / November 2004

of their current living conditions, we conducted multiple regression analyses


in which we used the six reasons as predictors, along with city (two dummy
codes), gender, age, education, length of time in the city, and amount of property owned. These regressions were conducted for six measures: mental distress, physical symptoms, rating of their home, composite rating of environmental stressors in the city, a rating of belief about the extent to which people
care in the city about others, and a measure of anomie. The variables used as
controls were the city (coded as two dummy variables), gender, age, and amount
of property (as an indicator of economic status). Education and amount of
time in the city were not significant predictors in any of the models and were
therefore excluded from the final models, which are presented in Table 2.
In terms of the control variables, across dependent measures there were
fairly consistent effects of city. Relative to migrants to New Delhi, migrants
to Dhaka had more mental distress and physical symptoms and were more
bothered by environmental stressors. Migrants to Islamabad had more mental distress and more physical symptoms but they liked their house more,
were less upset by environmental stressors, and experienced less anomie.
Women reported more symptoms and more liking for their house. Respondents with more property had less mental distress, liked their homes more,
and experienced less anomie.
In terms of the reasons for migrating to the city, endorsing fate was associated with more mental distress and more physical symptoms, consistent with
the general pattern of results regarding perceived control. Indeed, when we
included a measure of perceived control in the equation, the effect of fate
was no longer significant, suggesting that the attribution to fate is mediated
through perceived control. Going to the city to enhance prestige was associated with lower ratings of the house, more feelings that people in the city do
not care about them, and more anomie. This pattern could be the result of
people who move to the city to enhance their prestige feeling worse because
the conditions they hoped for did not turn out to be true. Going to the city
because a relative or friend was there was associated with higher ratings of
the house and with less negative ratings of environmental stressors, both of
which would be consistent with a social support model in which there was
tangible and emotional support. Going to the city for work was not associated
with any of the dependent measures, primarily because almost all respondents endorsed this reason.
RETURNING TO THE VILLAGE

Across the three cities, only 26% of the migrants said they wanted to
return to their home area, although the percentage varied significantly across

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829

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*p < .05. **p < .01. ***p < .001.

City1 (1 = Dhaka)
City2 (1 = Islamabad)
Gender (1 = Female)
Age
Property
Reasons for Migrating
In search of work (1 = Yes)
Fate (1 = Yes)
Enhance prestige (1 = Yes)
Relative/friend in city (1 = Yes)
Avoid family dispute (1 = Yes)
Avoid exploitation (1 = Yes)
Equation F
2
Adjusted R

.36***
.24***
.29***
.20***
.09*
.04
.10*
.05
.00
.07
.06
14.16***
.24

.04
.16***
.07
.04
.11*
.04
8.70***
.15

Physical
Symptoms

.22***
.21**
.06
.11*
.12**

Mental
Distress

.04
.02
.13**
.10*
.12*
.12*
9.49***
.16

.38***
.42***
.11*
.04
.21***

Rating
of House

.01
.05
.02
.07*
.03
.01
50.78***
.54

.57***
.20***
.05
.05
.01

Environmental
Stressors

Reason for Leaving Village

.04
.08
.13*
.08
.02
.03
2.57**
.04

.07
.13
.04
.05
.06

People Do
Not Care
About Others

.04
.06
.11*
.05
.07
.09
1.85*
.02

.11
.20**
.01
.02
.10*

Anomie

TABLE 2
Linear Regression Analyses of Mental Distress, Physical Symptoms, and Ratings of the Physical and Social Environment

830 ENVIRONMENT AND BEHAVIOR / November 2004


TABLE 3
Percentage Agreeing With Reasons for Returning, by City

Reason for
Leaving Village

Rank
in Terms
New Delhi
of Endorsement (n = 111)
Across Cities (%)
%

Lack of space for


living
Scarcity of money
Accumulation of
enough money
Fate
Garbage in the city
Polluted water in
the city
Crowding in the city
Loss of identity
Polluted air in the city
Falling ill in the city
Undue bullying and
disputes

Dhaka Islamabad
(n = 234) (n = 148)
%
%

15
15

20
22

18
16

7
8

11.85**
9.54**

14
14
9

14
14
17

21
16
9

4
10
3

20.97***
3.20
14.15***

8
8
8
7
6

10
10
11
9
7

11
9
8
8
7

3
4
4
3
3

8.88*
4.35
4.41
5.22
3.86

6.22*

NOTE: Within each row, the chi-square (with Yates correction) is a test of whether the proportions of
respondents endorsing the reason varied significantly across the three countries.
*p < .05. **p < .01. ***p < .001.

city, 2(2, 479) = 12.28, p < .002: New Delhi 35%; Dhaka 28%; Islamabad
16%. This disparity suggests that conditions in the home area were significantly worse for the Pakistani migrants than for the other two groups. In addition to being asked whether they wanted to return to their home area, respondents who said yes were also asked whether each of 11 factors was a reason
for their desire to return. Table 3 shows the percentage of individuals, as a
function of all migrants, who endorsed each of the 11 reasons.3 In general,
the pattern suggests that migrants to New Delhi were more upset by conditions in the city (e.g., garbage, polluted water, undue bullying) than were
migrants to the other cities. In contrast, migrants to Dhaka were more likely
to say they would return when they had accumulated enough money. Migrants to Islamabad endorsed only three reasons: fate, scarcity of money, and
lack of space. Multivariate analyses (not shown) confirm these bivariate
analyses in that the dummy variables for city were significant predictors on 8
of the 11 variables.

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Ruback et al. / MOTIVATIONS FOR AND SATISFACTION WITH MIGRATION 831


STABILITY OF REASONS

We found some evidence of stability in the reasons people endorsed for


coming to the city and for returning to their home area. Of the six reasons for
migrating to the city that we asked about, five had some overlap with the 11
reasons we asked about for wanting to return to the home area. With regard to
fate, 65% of those who said they came because of fate also said they would
return because of fate, whereas 72% of those who did not say fate was a reason for their initial migration also did not endorse fate as a reason for why
they wanted to return, 2(1, 124) = 12.88, p < .001. Of those who said they
migrated to avoid family disputes, 56% said they wanted to leave because of
undue bullying and disputes in the city, whereas 80% of those who did not
endorse family disputes as a reason for their migration also did not endorse
undue bullying and disputes as a reason for why they wanted to return,
2(1, 124) = 4.17, p < .05.
Of those who said they migrated to avoid exploitation in the village, 67%
said they wanted to leave because of undue bullying and disputes in the city,
whereas 97% of those who did not endorse exploitation in the village as a reason for their migration also did not endorse undue bullying and disputes as a
reason for why they wanted to return, 2(1, 124) = 8.24, p < .05. Of those who
said they migrated to enhance their prestige, 78% said they wanted to leave
because they had accumulated enough money, whereas 61% of those who did
not endorse enhancing prestige as a reason for their migration also did not
endorse accumulating enough money as a reason for why they wanted to return, 2(1, 124) = 4.17, p < .05. The reason of moving to the city in search of
work was not related to wanting to return either because of scarcity of money
(2 < 1) or accumulating enough money, 2(1, 124) = 2.12, ns.
COMPARISON OF RECENT MIGRANTS TO
LONGER-TERM MIGRANTS AND NATIVE CITY DWELLERS

For each of the three cities, we compared the migrants analyzed in this
study to other individuals who had participated in the full study but who had
migrated more than 10 years before or who had been born in the city. As
might be expected, the only significant variable for the four groups analyzed
(5 years or less; more than 5 years but less than 10 years; more than 10 years;
and born in the city) was the amount of property owned. In all three cities,
although the breakdown of significant differences was slightly different in
each city, individuals who had lived more than 10 years in the city had significantly more property than individuals who had lived fewer years in the city.
Multivariate analyses of the six variables presented in Table 2, controlling for

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832 ENVIRONMENT AND BEHAVIOR / November 2004

property, age, and gender, revealed no significant effects for migrant status in
any of the cities.
COMPARISON OF MIGRANTS FROM AFGHANISTAN TO
MIGRANTS FROM OTHER PARTS OF PAKISTAN

Of the 189 migrants to Pakistan, 41 (37 males, 4 females) had come from
Afghanistan. Because these migrants had left their country to escape conflict,
we did not include them with the Pakistani migrants. Our comparison of the
Muslim Afghani migrants to the Muslim Pakistani migrants indicated that
the Afghanis were more likely to say they wanted to return to their home area
(49%) than were the Pakistani migrants (7%), 2(1, 167) = 37.07, p < .001,
and they endorsed significantly more reasons for wanting to return to their
home area (M = 1.59) than did the Pakistani migrants (M = .50), t(187) = 3.56,
p < .001. The Afghani migrants were more critical of the city (crowding, polluted water, loss of identity) and were also more likely to endorse fate as a
reason for their return.

DISCUSSION

The present study is one of the few to examine motivations for and satisfaction with migration across three countries in the same part of the developing world. Moreover, the research also examined whether and why migrants
might want to return to their home area.
REASONS FOR MIGRATION

Although we found that job-related reasons were the primary motives for
why most of our sample of respondents had migrated to one of the three
capital cities, we also found, especially in Dhaka and Islamabad, that other
reasons, particularly fate, also affected immigrants decisions. Our finding
that the migrants in Dhaka and Islamabad were significantly more likely than
the migrants in New Delhi to endorse fate as a motivation for their moving to
the city may be due to one of three different factors: religion, poverty, and
attributional style. In terms of religion, one possible explanation for the observed difference is a difference in religious belief, such that believers in
Islam are more likely than are Hindus to believe in an active God who intercedes in their lives. The notion that Hindus and Muslims differ greatly in their
beliefs is consistent with the two-nation philosophy of Jinnah, the first Presi-

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Ruback et al. / MOTIVATIONS FOR AND SATISFACTION WITH MIGRATION 833

dent of Pakistan: The Hindus and the Muslims have two different religious
philosophies, social customs, literatures . . . they belong to two different civilizations which are based on conflicting ideas and conceptions (Presidential
Address by M. A. Jinnah at the All India Muslim League Lahore Session,
March 1940; as quoted in Al Mujahid, 1985, p. 492).
However, the fact that we did not find differences between Hindus and
Muslims in New Delhi in the endorsement of fate as a motivation suggests
that it is not religion but other cultural factors that explain the difference.
Such an argument is consistent with the position of Gandhi, who believed
that culture rather than religion was the dominant factor in the lives of people
in South Asia: A Bengali Muslim speaks the same tongue that the Bengali
Hindu does, eats the same food, has the same amusement as his neighbor
(Harijan, April 6, 1940, as quoted in Singh, 1988, p. 165). Moreover, the fact
that we did find differences between Muslim Pakistani and Muslim Afghani
migrants in Islamabad is also inconsistent with religion being the basis for the
difference in attributing migration to fate.
A second possibility is poverty, in that poor people might believe that they
are powerless pawns. Our data were also inconsistent with this explanation in that the difference in the amount of property owned by those who
endorsed fate versus those who did not was small and insignificant. Moreover, property was a significant predictor of four of the six variables in
Table 2, even though fate was in the equation. In addition, even though
the Afghani migrants had objectively less property than the Pakistani migrants, they were significantly less likely to attribute their move to Islamabad
to fate.
A third possibility, most consistent with our data, is that the explanation of
fate is consistent with a more general cultural belief in perceived control over
the environment. In the past, studies that have examined perceived causality
in India have generally found that Indians, as compared to European and East
Asian groups, tend to have a more fatalistic explanatory style in that they are
more likely to attribute causality to external variables and uncontrollable factors (Schuster, Frsterlung, & Weiner, 1989). In our study, the migrants who
attributed their move to fate were more likely than those who did not to have
less perceived personal control and to believe that God controls more of their
lives. Consistent with this explanation, when we added personal control to
the two equations for mental distress and physical symptoms (see Table 2),
the coefficients for fate were slightly reduced, suggesting that the effect of
fate was partially mediated through personal control. In contrast, there was
no evidence of mediation for the variable of God control. Also consistent
with this argument is the fact that the Afghani migrants who wanted to return
to Afghanistan were likely to attribute whether they would or not to fate. This

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834 ENVIRONMENT AND BEHAVIOR / November 2004

attribution makes sense, in that whether conditions in Afghanistan would


allow them to return was clearly beyond their personal control.
In the West, perceived control matters because it can increase the likelihood of performing behaviors that influence health and because it can
lower the physiological stress response (Salovey, Rothman, & Rodin, 1998).
Although fatalism may not be maladaptive in some cultures (see discussion
in Fiske, Kitayama, Markus, & Nisbett, 1998), our findings here from three
countries in South Asia suggest that low perceived control and a belief in fate
are negatively related to health.
More generally, migrants explanations for their migration might depend
on the overall conditions of their country. People might be likely to attribute
their behavior to fate when there is greater economic, political, and social
instability and uncertainty. Thus, although India is a developing country, it is
more stable than the other two countries and, because it is so much larger, it is
able to better absorb disruptions that do occur. Thus, given the greater stability, and therefore predictability, of conditions in India, migrants would be
expected to be less likely to attribute their behavior to fate.
With regard to enhancing prestige, which overall was the third most commonly endorsed reason, migrants to New Delhi endorsed it much less than
migrants to the other cities. One possible reason for this difference might be
citizensperceptions of their chances to be upwardly mobile. In more socially
stratified countries, people might see their chances as minimal and therefore
might see migration as a way of increasing their prestige. Future research
might fruitfully examine how perceptions of economic and social stratification relate to motivations for migration.
SATISFACTION WITH THE CITY

In this study we were able to compare two different types of reasons for
migrating to the city: the disadvantages of the home area and the attractiveness of the city. Other researchers have referred to these kinds of factors as
the push from rural areas and the pull of urban areas (Lee, 1966), although
these two dimensions are usually characterized in terms of economic factors.
In this study, the two problems with the home area that were inquired about
(family disputes and exploitation) were infrequently chosen as reasons for
respondents migration to the city. Future research might fruitfully use both
more questions and better targeted questions on relative satisfaction with the
home community (see Speare, 1974), as well as structural constraints on
moving (Landale & Guest, 1985).
We were also able to analyze the push and pull factors associated with a
desire to return to the home area. In general, it appeared that migrants to New

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Ruback et al. / MOTIVATIONS FOR AND SATISFACTION WITH MIGRATION 835

Delhi wanted to return because of push factors from the city, whereas
migrants to Dhaka wanted to return because of pull factors of the home area.
Few migrants to Islamabad wanted to return to their home area.
One of the most important factors affecting migrants satisfaction with
their move is likely to be whether they have a social network of individuals in
the destination city who, they believe, can provide them with social support
in the form of information, tangible aid, and emotional support (Hobfoll,
1988). Consistent with prior research suggesting that social networks have
positive effects on migrants (e.g., by lowering the direct, opportunity, and
psychic costs of moving), our study found that having a relative or friend in
the city before moving there seemed to be somewhat beneficial in terms of
helping migrants adapt to their new environments in that they liked their
house more and were less upset by environmental stressors.
FUTURE RESEARCH

The present study has three advantages over many prior studies of migration. First, we asked respondents about multiple reasons why they had moved
to the city, rather than, as in most studies, assuming that moving was determined only by economic and job-related motives. Second, we asked respondents whether they wanted to return to their home area. And third, if they
answered affirmatively that they wanted to return, we inquired about 11 possible reasons why they would want to return.
Despite these advantages, future research can improve on our method in
five ways (see De Jong, 1999). First, rather than using retrospective questions, which may elicit responses biased by recall errors, by dissonance
reduction to rationalize past behavior, and by cognitive distortion resulting
from changes over time in the respondent and the respondents environment,
future research should concentrate on relatively recently arrived migrants
and should follow these new migrants over time. Our failure to find differences among migrants as a function of how long they had been in the city suggests that this adaptation may occur relatively quickly. Second, research
should include comparison groups of individuals in the home areas who did
not migrate to the cities. Such comparison groups would permit tests to determine whether respondents answers were unique to migrants or more generally held by everyone. Third, future work should include interviews with
migrants who have returned to their home area. Otherwise, samples that
include only individuals who still live in the cities will overrepresent individuals who were satisfied with their migration (because those who were dissatisfied are more likely to have moved). Fourth, future research should include
migrants across a range of economic circumstances in that more affluent

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836 ENVIRONMENT AND BEHAVIOR / November 2004

migrants may have different motives for moving. Moreover, the associations we found between motives for moving and mental distress, physical
symptoms, and ratings of the environment may be different for migrants
who escape the poverty of the slums. Last, future studies of female migrants
should better separate associational migration (accompanying the primary migrant who migrated in a search for work) from migration in which
women themselves had expectations of finding employment (Thadani &
Todaro, 1984). Although studies in South Asia suggest that most female
migrants come as dependents (e.g., Afsar, 1998), making this separation
will permit tests of whether and how the reason for the migration affects female migrants freedom and ability to break from traditional roles (Pedraza,
1991).
During the coming decades, millions of people will be migrating to cities
in South Asia. Research on migrants reasons for and satisfaction with their
migration will be useful both for making their adjustment easier and for helping urban planners plan for the future.

NOTES
1. Although this measure of internal reliability is somewhat low, we decided to use the composite measure anyway because the reliability of the two subscales formed on the basis of a factor
analysis was only marginally higher and because the pattern of results using this composite measure is basically the same as that produced when we used all seven items separately.
2. The results using the three separate items relating to perceived control by God are exactly
the same as those with the composite measure. For that reason, we use the composite measure.
3. The pattern of results was the same if we looked only at the responses of those migrants
who said they wanted to return to their home area, although the only significant difference (probably because of reduced statistical power) was on the reason accumulation of enough money.

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