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Types of Migration
Internal Migration
Global Labour Mobility
Child Migration
Skilled Migration
Forced Migration
Return Migration

Key Themes
Modelling Causes
and Consequences
Links between Migrations
Rural Poverty and Livelihoods
Social Protection
Gender and Generations
Health and Education

UK / international
Albania / Eastern Europe
Ghana / Africa
Egypt / the Middle East
Bangladesh and
South Asia




Project 1b
Livelihoods, Social Protection and Intergenerational Equity in Migration from Bangladesh to the Gulf

This project seeks to examine the interrelationship between poverty, social protection and international migration in Sylhet, North East Bangladesh. The context is one in which sustained overseas migration (predominantly to the UK) has had a dramatic effect upon the local economy. The visible success of overseas migration as an economic strategy has led many economically marginal households to struggle against all odds to get a foothold in work abroad.

Rather than examining well-established transnational households, whose members are now largely reunited in Britain, this study will focus upon poorer households who are struggling to gain access to irregular migration to the Gulf. Many households are prepared to gamble their livelihoods, by selling land, for the chance to migrate. However, they may never remit enough to cover the costs of migrating. Others are cheated by unscrupulous brokers and lose land this way. For those that do successfully migrate, their absence has a variety of implications for the women, children and older people left behind. For example, young wives of Gulf migrants are often considered vulnerable to abandonment. The sustained absence of the younger generation may have negative repercussions on ageing parents and other vulnerable household members. These negative effects may be further magnified as economically marginal households are often smaller and lack local patronage.

Key Research Questions

Dot What are the livelihood implications of economically marginal households' attempts to migrate overseas?
Dot What are the effects on families left behind?
Dot How does the position of the family in local social relations affect their ability to deal with new vulnerabilities?
Dot What are the gendered and generational implications of this migration flow?
Dot What is the experience of migration of men from economically marginal households?
Dot What are the social protection issues for these men?
Dot What are the barriers to better social protection for migrants and their families?



Key Theme(s)
Rural Poverty and Livelihoods
Social Protection

Type(s) of Migration
Internal Migration
Global Labour Mobility

Bangladesh / South Asia


Ann Whitehead

Katy Gardner (Sussex)
Syeda Rozana Rashid (Sussex)

Key Activities

1 Ethnographic research in one or more villages in Sylhet district, building on long-term ethnographic engagement in this area.
2 Synthesis of findings and application to wider patterns of irregular migration.

Key Outputs

Interim literature review on migration from South Asia to the Gulf
Local media articles
A field report presented to workshop on social protection in Dhaka
Doctoral training leading to DPhil



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With thanks to IOM and Claudia Natali for the photographs