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Data: NSSO Data Indicates High Migration to Union Territories From Other States


The 78th round of the NSSO measured multiple indicators to estimate India’s progress with respect to the SDGs. One of the important topics covered in this round was migration. The survey findings indicate that 69% of all those surveyed mentioned that they migrated within the state from a rural area.

Recently, the findings of the National Sample Survey Office’s latest survey on multiple indicators (78th round) to estimate India’s progress with respect to Sustainable Development Goals was released. The survey was initially planned to be conducted during the period January and December 2020, but the fieldwork was extended further till August 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. There are broadly 10 sections in the report, one of which is dedicated to ‘Migration’. Various aspects of migration have been covered in the report such as the type of region, reason behind migrating, change in income, transfer of documents, willingness to move and the reason behind it.

The data on migration for this story from the NSS’s 78th Round Multiple-Indicator Survey has been taken from Factly’s Dataful website.

Migration is an important indicator of socio-economic and political conditions

Migration is an important factor to be captured as it is considered the barometer of changing socio-economic and political conditions at the national and international levels. It gives a fair idea of the existing inequalities and disparities in economic and social conditions across different places. It may be driven by several reasons like career growth, employment, the standard of living, marriage, calamities, conflicts, and human rights violations among others. Data on migration is even more relevant in this survey as it was conducted after the first two waves of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 & 2021 which resulted in large-scale migration. While this story focuses on reasons for migration, in the subsequent story, data pertaining to the transfer of documents by migrants will be analysed. 

Definitions: In this Multiple Indicator Survey, a person was considered to have migrated if his/her present place of enumeration was different from the last usual place of residence. The last usual place of residence was referred to the village/town/country where the household member stayed continuously for 6 months or more before coming to the present village/town or the place of enumeration. 

Migration is the highest from rural areas

As per the survey findings, migration was the highest in rural areas. More than 81% of those who were surveyed in rural areas mentioned that they had migrated within the same state from another rural area while more than 45% of those surveyed in urban areas said that they migrated within the state from another rural area.  Overall, nearly 69% of all those surveyed mentioned that they migrated within the same state from another rural area. 

On the other hand, 18.4% of all those surveyed said that they migrated within the same state from another urban area. About one-third of those surveyed in urban areas mentioned that they had migrated within the same state from another urban area while 10% of those surveyed in rural areas mentioned that they had migrated within the same state from another urban area.

Interstate rural-to-urban migration was nearly 13% while it was 7.3% from urban to urban.  The inter-state migration from urban to rural was around 4%.  International migration was 0.9% at the national level, with 1.2% in urban areas and 0.7% in rural areas. 

Intra-state migration was more than 90% in AP, MP, TN, and Bihar while migration from other country was high in Kerala and Tripura

Among all states, persons whose last place of residence was another country was the highest in Kerala with 9.9% followed by 3.6% in Tripura, and 1.4% each in Mizoram, Punjab, and West Bengal. On the other side, states like Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh reported zero.

The percentage of persons who had moved from a different state was relatively high in Union Territories like Dadra and Nagar Haveli (84%), Chandigarh (68.5%), Delhi (64.7%), and Puducherry (62.1%). This may be because of the movement of people from adjoining states like Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana, and Tamil Nadu. Among large states, more than 21% of those surveyed in Punjab said they migrated from another state while this is around 20% in Haryana and Jharkhand respectively. 

Less than 9% of those surveyed in Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, and Tamil Nadu said they migrated from another state. However, the intra-state migration was on the higher side for these states. In all four states, more than 90% of those surveyed said they migrated from within the state. While the all-India rate of intra-state migration was 87.2%, states like Kerala, Punjab, and Jharkhand, and Delhi reported less than 80%.  

The survey report also mentioned the main reasons behind migration. Reasons such as the search for employment, in search of better employment, business, to take up employment/ better employment, transfer of service/ contract, proximity to the place of work, studies, marriage, social/political problems (riots, terrorism, political refugee, bad law and order, etc.), displacement by a development project, scarcity of water, acquisition of own house/ flat, housing problems/insufficient land holding, health care, retirement, natural disaster, migration of parent/earning member of the family were captured. 

7 in 10 people migrated for marriage while 1 in 10 had migrated due to migration of earning member

The reason behind the migration of more than 70% of the people surveyed was marriage. Nearly 10% had migrated due to the migration of the earning member of the family or parent. 4.4% had migrated seeking better employment opportunities while more than 2% each had migrated in search of employment and studies. 1.9% had migrated to take up employment while 1% each had migrated due to transfer of service and acquisition of own flat or house. 

Except in the case of ‘Marriage’ for which more people had moved to rural areas, in the case of other reasons like employment, transfer of contract, and studies, more people had moved to urban areas where better opportunities and facilities are available. Across gender, around 87% of the females had moved for marriage as compared to only 5.8% of males. In contrast, the share of women who migrated for other reasons such as education and employment is very low compared to that of men. 

Migration in India report presents similar findings

The findings of this survey are in line with the Migration in India (2020-21) report released by the National Statistical Office in 2022 to estimate the migration due to the pandemic. The survey was conducted along with the annual Periodic Labour Force Survey from July 2020 to June 2021, roughly around the time the NSS survey was carried out. According to the report, the migration rate across the country was 28.9% during the period from July 2020 to 2021, when the survey was conducted. 

As per the report, Marriage was cited as the reason behind migration for more than 71% of the migrants – 86.8% of females and 6.2% of males. Migration of the earning member of the family or parent was cited to be the reason by 9.2% of the migrants including 17.5% of males and 7.3% of females. A total of 4.8% migrated in search of employment or better employment opportunities while 4.4% migrated to take up employment. Reasons such as natural disasters, political problems, displacement due to development projects, health-related reasons, and retirement accounted for less than 1% each. 

Featured Image: Migration in India


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A bachelor’s degree in mathematics and master’s in social science, she is driven by ardent desire to work with this unique combination to create her own path instead of following the herd. Having served a stint as the college union chairperson, she is a strategist who is also passionate about nature conservation, art and loves solving Sudoku.

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