ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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New Evidences from the Kerala Migration Survey, 2018

The Kerala Migration Survey 2018, eighth in the series of studies on migration undertaken by the Centre for Development Studies, sheds light on the various issues concerning migration and mobility, based on a large-scale sample survey of 15,000 households. It gathers the findings of two decades of research done at the CDS and examines migration dynamics from multiple perspectives: demographic, economic and sociopolitical. As per the KMS 2018, there are 2.1 million emigrants from Kerala across the world. However, there has been a decline of 3 lakh emigrants during 2013–18. The estimated total remittances to Kerala are₹85,092 crore, an increase from ₹71,142 crore reported in 2014. This is due to the fact that Keralites in the Gulf have climbed up the social ladder and earn higher wages, allowing them to remit more.


This study was sponsored by the Government of Kerala through its Department of Non-Resident Keralite Affairs, Research and Empirical Analysis of Labor Migration of Interdisciplinary Centre for Innovation Theory and Empirics, Columbia University, United States of America, KNOMAD, World Bank, and the World Economy Programme of the Centre for Development Studies.

The Kerala Migration Survey (KMS) has a 20-year history. The first survey in this series was conducted in 1998 and has continued at an interval of five years (Zachariah et al 2003; Zachariah and Rajan 2009, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018; Rajan and Zachariah 2017). A panel data for 10,000 households since 1998 has also been maintained (Rajan and Zachariah 2019). The basic objectives of the survey are to estimate the total count of migrants from Kerala to various destinations, assess their demographic and socio-economic characteristics, and to calculate the total remittances to Kerala. The study also explores the factors causing the decrease in migration from Kerala. The findings reported in this paper are based on a large-scale sample survey on migration conducted from 1 January 2018 to 31March 2018. As with the earlier studies on migration, the KMS estimates for 2018 are made on the basis of answers to the following key questions: (i) Has any member of this household, who is a usual member, ever lived outside Kerala for at least six months or more? This question helps in identifying return migrants in the household. Return migrants are further classified as return emigrants (REM) or return out-migrants (ROM) on the basis of their place and country of residence, while living outside Kerala. (ii) Has any person who was a usual resident of this household migrated out of Kerala and is still living outside Kerala? This question helps to identify emigrants (emi) and out-migrants (OMI). Those who are living outside India at the time of the survey are classified as emigrants and those who are living in India, but outside Kerala as OMI. Thus, the study collected information on the numbers and characteristics of these four types of migrants (REM, ROM, EMI and OMI). However, this paper is limited to emigrants from and return emigrants to Kerala.

Estimating Migration

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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