Migration, Circulation, and Socioeconomic Change in South Africa

Michael J. White, Brown University
Yashas Vaidya, Brown University
Mark Collinson, University of the Witwatersrand
Carren Ginsburg, University of the Witwatersrand

We analyze migration, specifically temporary migration, and its crucial but complex role in the well-being of rural households. We exploit long-duration panel data for a rural-district of South Africa: the Agincourt Heath and Demographic Surveillance System. We analyze both the determinants and consequences of temporary migration. Our results indicate that households that are somewhat better offer are, adjusting for other features of their composition, more likely to send a temporary migrant. Our analyses also point to strong differentiation in the probability of migration by position in the household structure. Temporary migration confers modest socioeconomic benefits to the origin household. Such gains must be seen, of course, against the sacrifice (and non-pecuniary losses) that the household might suffer due to the absence of one of its members. All told, our results point to the extensive prevalence of temporary and circular migration and to its seeming net benefit for the origin household.

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