Impacts of Return Migration to Rural Areas

Essay, 2014

10 Pages

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Return migration is generally one of the categories of migration and usually most migrants see it as a fundamental if not a necessary aspects of migration process. This is because most people although not all who migrate out hope to return one day to the origin. Return migration particularly in this respect which involves return to the rural areas, have several impacts on the community which involves social, economic and demographic. There are as well a number of approaches adopted in explaining the situation of return migration among which are :the structural approach, the neoclassical approach, the new economic of labour migration approach and the social network approach.

1.1 Introduction

Return migration as a form of migration has not been given the the desired attention as other forms of migration. This is behind the fact that the reasons for rural urban migration are known to be numerous while the reasons for rural return migration are not as much particularly in sub-saharan Africa. According to Junge, Revilla and Schatzl (2013) reasons that have been advanced in some literature are mainly built on success -failure dichotomy. A look at the Harris -Today's theoretical position /view of migration shows that returnees are mostly the unsuccessful migrants who could not secure a better means of livelihood in the urban areas. This shows that the magnitude of return migration is predicted on flactuations at the urban labour market. Early generalization on migration return were generally built on three principles :

-The shorter the distance of emigration ,the higher the incidence of return migration (Caldwell, 1969) for Nigeria, Wander, (1953) for Sweden and Vanderkamp, (1972) for Canada.
- The longer the emigrants stay away the less chance they will return to the origin (Hollungsworth, 1971) on Scotland.
- Changes in the economic balance between the place of origin and destination directly affect the volume of return migration, (Thomas, 1938; Crane, 1955; Vanderkamp, 1972 and Miller, 1973).

Return migration in this respect tend to portray returnees at the level of international migration as successful migrants who during their migration life have been sending remittances, have worked and saved against the future which they may invest after returning to the origin. Their return to the rural areas also make them to serve as change agents since they come with capital and skills to venture into entrepreneurial activities ( Dev regen, Caber and Robillard 2010; Marche take 2012).

1.2 Defining Return Migration

Due to terminological sloppiness that characterized the literature on return migration which poses serious difficulties in understanding the concept of return migration, in his early writting Bovenkerk, (1974), pointed out that return migration refers to the situation where people return to the origin after emigrating for the first time ; when people emigrate again to the same destination from which they returned it is called re-migration ; when return migrants emigrate to a new destination after returning to the origin is second time emigration ; however when the to and fro movement between two places happened more than one time is circular migration. Another terminology which cannot be detached from migration discussion is repatriation which is also a type of return migration but not initiated by the migrants rather by a political authority. Gmelch, (1980), also define return migration as the movement of emigrants back to their homelands to resettle. According to IOM, (2011), return migration is the act or process of going back to the point of departure ,is the returning of people to their origin or place of habitual residence after spending some time at another place. This could be within the territorial boundaries of a country as in the case of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and demobilized combatants; between host country /community (either transit or destination ) and a country /community of origin as in the case of migrants workers, refugees, asylum-seekers and qualified nationals. In line with this definition, two typologies of return migration exist :

- Voluntary return : this can mean assisted or independent return to origin, transit or a new destination based on free will of the returnees (IMO,2011). It can also be classified in to :- (a) Spontaneous Return; which is a voluntary and independent return of people including refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) or asylum seekers to their origin usually with out the support of state or humanitarian organisations.

(b) Assisted Voluntary Return; involves administrative, logical, financial and integration support to those whom asylum had been denied, victims of trafficking in human being, stranded migrants, qualified nationals and other migrants unwilling to remain in host communities /countries who are willing to return.

- Forced Migration: is the compulsory return of migrants to their place of origin, transit or another destination on the basis of administrative or judicial act, (IOM, 2011).

1.3 Impacts of Return Migration

The phenomenon of migration whichever way it takes : out-migration from rural area or in- migration to rural areas in form of return migration poses significant impact to the socio - economic and demographic character of the area as discussed below.

1.3.1Demographic Impact

It is clear that out migration of people and return of people to rural areas have significant impact on the population in term of size and characteristics over time. As observed by John Etal (2013) age impact of migration seems well pronounced and geographically diverse as migration and destination also varies with age in relation to changes underlying life - course factors driving migration. They further pointed out that rural areas depicts high rate of out - migration than return migration comprising particularly the younger generation in their early ages. The trend of out - migration also declines with considerable increase in ages that is say as people get older their tendency to migrate greatly decline. This selectively in migration significantly affect the age structure of the rural people with the a reduced number of younger generation and more elderly people (John etal, 2013). This shows that, out-migration attractgeneration from rural areas while rural areas seems attractive to returnees.

1.3.2 Economic Impact

Return migration to rural areas have significant impact on the economy of the rural areas as well since in some cases it dramatically contribute towards boosting the economic activities the area. As returnees come with their savings and are set settle in the rural area, they engage in buying and or building new houses for their families. John etal (2013) observed that the new comers are really an addition to the population of rural area which ordinarily will raise the demand for goods and services from both private and public sector. This further confirmed that the phenomenon of return migration also increases employment opportunities in locally oriented job sector such as retail, health, education, government, construction and repair. It is in fact a major way of returnee recruitment strategy as they invest their resources saving back home , the younger returnees also join the rural workforce increasing labour supply and competition which is also critical to business location decision in general ( Mcgraw, 1998).

1.3.4 Social Impact

Return migration has it's own aspects of social impact since the returnees having spent substantial number of years outside their home communities as result of which acquired a lot of experience which are distinct from the one of their home communities. As they return to the community they are expected to mix up and integrate with the members of the community they returned to, such integration observed by Brown and Glasgow (2008) is often challenging. In some circumstances returnees use to cluster together while connecting minimally with the rural home country by adding little in terms of the rural home communities. Similarly Benson and OReilly (2009) concluded that clustering of the returnees and minimal integration withthe locals has the potential for fuelling conflicts .

1.4 Approaches to Return Migration

There are several approaches to return migration which are generally speaking considered as the explanation for the reasons why people engage in return migration to rural areas in spite of the fact that they initially migration out of the rural areas to other areas mostly to urban settings and predominantly in search for greener pasture. Some of the approaches include the following;

1.4.1 Structural Approach

Structural approach to return migration is generally predicted on several differing factors including social , institutional, contextual and financial calculations in relation to the rural origin. In his view Cerase (1974) put forward the following factors as constituting the motivations to return to the rural origin.

- Return of Failure: returnees under this group have failed to integrate with the destination, failed to secure a promising means of livelihood and failed to record reasonable target of achievement . Such persons return to the rural areas as failures because they cannot continue to remain in urban areas as the condition may be highly unfavourable for them and their families.
- Return of Conservation: here the returnees since they moved out from the rural areas to the urban areas have continued to maintain a favourable relationship with the home communities. Culture and home values are maintained and see out-migration as temporary thus, they are only on migration in order to enhance their financial resources with which they will be able to utilize for personal and family benefits only.
- Return of Retirement: a reasonable number of migrants move to urban areas from the rural areas because of work, some of which may return to the rural areas at the time of retirement. This class of migrants are able to make savings that upon attaining retirement could facilitate their settlement and carry on with life after retirement.
- Return of Innovation:according to Cessarino (2004) returnees of this category are only willing to return to the rural areas but equally to financial and skills gained for the benefit of the community. The skills they returned to the rural areas with can be great importance in reducing unemployment and improving economic climate of the area.

1.4.2 Neoclassical Approach

This approach is built on the idea that migrants are motivated to respond to the forseen opportunities at the destination area or receiving area. The early principal views supporting this direction (Sjaastad,1962; Todaro 1969) opined that international migration depicts a response to wage differential between receiving and sending countries. The situation is equally the same with rural and urban setsettings, thus Hunter (2010) aligned to neatness and predictive potential of the theory as relevant in terms of migration or return. Return migration might therefore be as a result of incorrect calculations of cost and benefits by migrants, Cassarino (2014) . Such wrong calculations lead to failed experience in addition to the fact that their human resources have not been acknowledged as having the needed monetary value.

1.4.3 New Economic of Labour Migration (NELM)

Contrary to the classical approach the NELM consider return migration as a conclusion of successful migration experience. The approache therefore perceive return as logical outcome of planned process involving migrants and the household after successfully achieving a set target. NELM in this regard view out-migration and return migration as process of collective decision involving the decision which after completing the period of migration the migrant successfully return to the rural areas.

1.4.4 Social Network Approach

According to Cassarino (2004) the social network approach present a better understanding of the phenomenon of return migration. This approach consider return migration as a situation involving actors who are able to mobilize resources during their migration stay in the urban settings and return with it to the rural areas. The approach also posit that returnees usually maintain consistent relationship with the host communities but however not dependent on them. The returnees normally mobilize resources to support their return which involves both financial and human capital to warrant successful return.

1.5 Significance of Return Migration

Generally migration of skilled labour or able bodies workforce from rural areas to urban areas or from less developed to developed countries of the world poses a very serious threat to the development of the sending areas. According to migration statistics, since the reunification of Germany in 1989/90 , Eastern Germany has lost more than 2 million people to the West (Statistisches Bundesamt,2013). The age selective nature of migration outflow usually accelerate demographic ageing process in the sending areas. The sender is left with the struggle of the lost workforce and indeed the retiring workforce that may be growing weaker due ageing, (Nadleretal, 2014). Having realised the serious threat of out-migration, many governments have adopted retention outreach re-attraction initiatives, (Kovacs etal, 2013). As a result return migration come in to play in some cases.

According to OECD (2008), 20-50% of migrants leave their home /region but return within 5 years and in fact mostly return to the origin. This implies that out - migration is done with the intention of return which portray migration as a non permanent phenomenon, (Vertovec,2008).

Return migration might therefore be particularly relevant to the sender/origin because it stands to benefit from the experience, skills and knowledge acquired by the returnees during the period of migration. Return in most cases are accompanied by materials and financial resources which will definitely benefit the local community in some ways directly or indirectly. The returnees having spent substantial number of years outside their home communities are able to establish networks with the outside communities that will be of benefit to the origin. Population wise, returnees are seen addition in terms human capital to the communities as well as consumers of goods and services from both private and public sector offered by the communities.


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Impacts of Return Migration to Rural Areas
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impacts, return, migration, rural, areas
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Abdulkarim Dandang (Author), 2014, Impacts of Return Migration to Rural Areas, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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