Modeling the Impact of Migrant and Community Social Capitals on Rural to Urban Migration

Walker Frahm, University of Washington
Sara Curran, University of Washington

The concept of social networks is often invoked in migration research, frequently as a mechanism through which ‘migrant social capital’ (i.e. information and resources needed to migrate) can be transmitted from past migrants to potential migrants. Thus, high density social networks in sending communities imply a greater likelihood of cumulative migratory processes whereby outmigration becomes self-sustaining as migrant social capital is distributed ever more evenly through the population. We propose a new pathway through which social networks can impact migration decision making: ‘community social capital.’ An individual’s greater connectedness to their place of origin may make them less likely to out-migrate, since they have more social capital to lose by leaving compared to someone who is more socially peripheral. We use longitudinal migration and network data from 22 rural Thai villages to test the relative impact of these two social network processes on migration behavior.

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 Presented in Session P6. Migration and Urbanization/Population, Development, and the Environment