Population mobility in rural Bangladesh: The circulation of working people
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This study is primarily concerned with work related movement patterns of rural people in Bangladesh. It involves a general historical review of the internal migration of village people at the national level, and a comprehensive assessment of contemporary mobility behaviour of household earning members in three selected rural areas in Bangladesh. The main focus is on two types of movement, commuting and circular migration. In the selected rural communities, a range of inquiries were carried out at individual, household and community levels with a view to: (i) assessing the total movement pattern of village populations in 1980; (ii) establishing individual and household characteristics of commuters and circular migrants; (iii) distinguishing these two types of movers from stayers and seasonal migrants; and (iv) examining the relationship between socio-economic status and mobility behaviour in rural Bangladesh. The main body of the thesis is comprised of 9 chapters. Chapter 1 gives a general introduction to the scope and design of the dissertation. Chapter 2 examines some conceptual, theoretical and methodological issues of mobility studies in the Bangladesh context. A brief review of the history of population movement and urbanization in Bangladesh is given in this chapter, along with an assessment of the limitations of existing migration literature in this country. In Chapter 3 some aspects of the physical environment, population growth and distribution, and agricultural patterns in the three study areas are examined. An overview of all current mobility patterns in these areas, including permanent relocation and immobility, is also provided in this chapter. Chapter 4 illustrates the space-time patterns of commuting and circular migration while Chapter 5 elaborates on the pattern and process of commuting trips made by people with different occupations in Rampal. Chapters 6 and 7 contain detailed examinations of the various characteristics of commuters and circular migrants. Chapter 6 deals with individual characteristics of these movers and their stated reasons for movement while Chapter 7 is concerned with their household attributes. In Chapter 8 the relationship between mobility behaviour and socio-economic status of the surveyed population is examined empirically. The concluding chapter (Chapter 9) briefly discusses the relevance of circular mobility in Bangladesh in the light of the major findings from village surveys. Shortcomings of the study and some avenues for future research are also indicated here. The major conclusions derived from this study are as follows: 1. The basic pattern of movement of working people originating from rural areas in Bangladesh is circular, involving temporary relocation from a village home base rather than the conventional linear type of migration. Generally the pattern includes three broad types of movements: commuting, circular migration, and seasonal migration. Permanent relocation for an economic reason usually follows some experience of circular mobility. 2. Commuting has been widely practised by villagers from different age groups, occupations, and education levels. The individuals who participate in circular migration are relatively young, well educated, unmarried, economically better-off, and come from larger families. They prefer salaried jobs and services and are strongly directed to cities and towns. Seasonal migration, on the other hand, is more likely to be found among the labourers in poor regions of the country. 3. The relationship between population movement and agriculture pattern indicates that, generally, the villagers from intensive agriculture areas prefer commuting, and from traditional or poor farming zones tend to migrate. 4. It is evident that among the rural families a dual or multiple occupation (or income) strategy has been evolving through the process of circular migration. Increased pressure of population on land is further strengthening this strategy and the circulation process. 5. Empirical evidence shows that in rural Bangladesh people from different socio-economic classes follow different patterns of movement for earning a livelihood. The pattern of socio-economic statuses for male movers is fairly bi-modal which indicates that within the pyramidal social structure those who are in either the higher or the lower socio-economic strata have higher rates of mobility than those who lie at the top, middle and bottom levels. The detailed pattern further suggests that earning males from the upper strata are more attracted to circular migration while those originating from the lower socio-economic strata are more likely to make short term movements such as commuting and seasonal migration. Thus it can be concluded that commuting is a viable alternative to circular migration, especially among villagers in the lower socio-economic strata.