Poverty and income inequalities brief

This work package pursues three broad areas of enquiry across each of the three corridors (Ethiopia-South Africa, Ghana-China, Burkina Faso-Cote D’Ivoire), addressing the following overarching questions: 1) How does migration influence inequality in areas of origin; 2) what are the implications of settlement of migrants on inequality in destination countries, and 3) to what extent is movement in the corridor shaped by and shaping inequality between origin and destination countries?

We consider the interplay of poverty, income inequalities and migration in sending areas, areas of destination, and return areas. In sending areas, we consider how differential access to resources enables people’s migration and decision-making about migration, and then consider key mechanisms through which migration affects income levels and inequality. We consider transfers from migrants to the origin area and the return of migrants to the origin area. In destination areas we ask what are the implications of settlement of migrants on inequality in those destination areas. Finally, we look at larger scale questions about inequality between sending and receiving countries, and the wider societal impact of migration.

This work package also explores some elements of inequality that are indirectly related to income: inequalities related to attitudes that give preference to, or discriminate against, people on the basis of, e.g. ethnicity, religion, occupation, access to remittances or migrants, etc.

Research Questions

  1. To what extent does access to migration in the corridor change inequality in the areas of origin?
    1. Decision-making and dynamics around sending of migrants (country of origin) What levels of income/assets are required to embark on migration journeys? What levels of income/assets are required to successfully reach the destination (resources needed to complete the journey)?
    2. Remittances (in country of origin): What (financial and social) remittances are transferred to the area of origin by corridor migrants? (How much and how often, to whom?). To what extent does receipt of remittances contribute to increased inequalities between families of migrants and those who do not have connections to migrants? c. Return (country of origin): What are the dynamics around return of migrants? How significant is it, and what do they do on return? Where do people return to? Why? How well do returnees integrate? To what extent does return contribute to inequalities between migrant and non-migrant households?
  2. What are the implications of the settlement of migrants on inequality in destination areas? (Destination country)
    1. Expectations vs realities (country of destination): How do migrants’ expectations of life in South Africa differ from the reality? What did they aspire to before they had the idea to migrate? What did other household members expect from their relative’s migration (country of origin)?
    2. Employment (country of destination): In what sectors are people employed? (e.g. mines, livestock, plantations, restaurants, bars, shops, traders, etc.) What has been the experience of migrants in finding employment?
    3. Migrant/settled community inequalities (country of destination): How does the socio-economic position of migrants in the corridor compare to the wider population of long-term residents and other migrants – including internal migrants and those moving in other corridors?
    4. Macro-level influences (country of destination): What are the implications of the arrival of migrants in destination countries on wider socio-economic conditions in the country of destination?
  3. To what extent is movement in the corridor shaped by and shaping inequality between origin and destination countries (both sending and receiving country)?
    1. What is the wider impact of migrants in the origin and destination countries? Comparison of income levels, levels of hostility or welcome towards migrants and their families.
    2. What is the contribution of remittances of migrants to GDP – at national and district level (origin country)
    3. What inequalities exist between households established in destination countries and those back home?