Rural-urban migration as a means of getting ahead
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In this chapter, the authors examine whether rural-urban migration is associated with an improvement in economic circumstances for rural-urban migrants. An invaluable source of longitudinal data from the National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS) was used, which follows a large group of individuals every two years (starting in 2008). The authors ask whether migrants are more likely to escape poverty and experience upward social mobility than those who remain in rural areas. Does migration represent a useful way of promoting economic upliftment and social inclusion in South Africa? Is this form of 'adjustment' a more efficient way of narrowing spatial disparities than trying to re-balance economic activity between cities and rural areas? The structure of this chapter is as follows: a discussion of the challenges and opportunities of urbanisation, migration and development, followed by a section in which the method of analysis and source of data is explained, and then a section in which the patterns of social mobility associated with migration are examined. Gross flows backwards and forwards between sending and receiving communities are then explored ending with summary of the main findings and conclusions.