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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 4a
Impacts of Poverty and Vulnerability on Migration Choice: Ghana and Egypt

There is some consensus in the migration literature that migrants do not constitute the poorest or the most vulnerable individuals in society. They are seen as more likely to be young males, able to finance migration costs, willing to undertake many risks associated with the choice of migration, and possessing the skills demanded in destination locations. This is, however, not necessarily true for all cases. Migration is not restricted by age, gender, income or ethnicity and, in fact, it can have potential benefit for vulnerable groups. Moreover, within development literature, migration for the poorest sectors of the population has been placed in the context of lack of opportunities and services, as well as a highly vulnerable environment in sending communities, stressing the importance of push and pull factors that are external to poor individuals and households while ignoring the central role that migration plays in the livelihood of people. New research has emerged to address the strategies of the poorest groups to cope with negative external and internal shocks such as environmental change, economic pressures or HIV/AIDS within the household. The sustainable livelihoods framework has been the cornerstone to address these issues, which sees migration as a key livelihood strategy for the poor.

The objective of this project is to study the factors that influence the choice of migration for the poorest groups and how migration serves as a livelihood strategy for these people. It will draw on a database collected by the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute and the Statistical Office of the European Union for their project on the Push and Pull Factors of International Migration, using the country data sets for Ghana and Egypt in collaboration with partners in those countries to draw up an empirical model.

Key Research Questions

Dot How do poverty and vulnerability affect the decision to migrate? (This will include both economic and non-economic determinants of migration.)
Dot Under what conditions are the poorest segments of a society able to consider migration as a livelihood strategy?
Dot If the poor are able to migrate in search of a livelihood, what are the implications and ramifications of such a strategy?
Dot Does migration enable poor households to smooth consumption over their life-cycle and what does this imply for risk management options?



Key Theme(s)
Modelling Causes and Consequences
Rural Poverty and Livelihoods

Region (s)
Ghana / Africa
Egypt / the Middle East


Rachel Sabates-Wheeler

Rachel Sabates-Wheeler (IDS)
Adriana Castaldo (Sussex)

Key Activities


Analysis of country data sets on migration from Ghana and Egypt.

2. Case studies in each country to complement the macro-level data analysis.
3. Analysis and comparison with findings of project 4b.

Key Outputs

Working paper on links between poverty, vulnerability and migration choice

Workshop on methodological approaches
Interim and field reports on quantitative data analysis and qualitative case studies
Presentation of findings at workshop on poverty, vulnerability and migration in Sussex
Policy briefing
Final report
Academic publications


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With thanks to IOM and Claudia Natali for the photographs