Inter-state labour mobility averaged 5-6.5 million people between 2001 and 2011, yielding an inter-state migrant population of about 60 million and an inter-district migration as high as 80 million, according the Economic Survey 2016-17 released Tuesday, ahead of the general budget being presented in parliament.
The new data is based on the 2011 Census and railway passenger traffic flows of the Ministry of Railways and new methodologies including the Cohort-based Migration Metric (CMM).
“The first-ever estimates of internal work-related migration using railways data for the period 2011-2016 indicate an annual average flow of close to 9 million migrant people between the states. Both these estimates are significantly greater than the annual average flow of about 4 million suggested by successive Censuses and higher than previously estimated by any study,” stated Dr Arvind Subramanian, chief economic adviser to the Finance Ministry.
In the period 2001-2011 the rate of growth of labour migrants nearly doubled relative to the previous decade, rising to 4.5 per cent per annum. Interestingly, the acceleration of migration was particularly pronounced for females and increased at nearly twice the rate of male migration in the 2000s. There is also a doubling of the stock of inter-state out migrants to nearly 12 million in the 20-29 year old cohort alone.
The report states that one plausible hypothesis for this acceleration in migration is that the rewards (in the form of prospective income and employment opportunities) have become greater than the costs and risks that migration entails. Higher growth and a multitude of economic opportunities could therefore have been the catalyst for such an acceleration of migration.
Less affluent states are seeing more people migrating out while the most affluent states are the largest recipients of migrants, indicating a strong positive relationship between the CMM scores and per capita incomes at the state level. Relatively poorer states such as Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have high net out-migration. Seven states take positive CMM values reflecting net in-migration: Goa, Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka.
The costs of moving for migrants are about twice as much as they are for goods – another confirmation of popular conception, notes the Economic Survey. One of the biggest challenges before policy makers in India in the medium and long terms remains creation of jobs, admitted Subramanian.
The Economic Survey has urged policy actions to sustain and maximize the benefits of migration include: ensuring portability of food security benefits, providing healthcare and a basic social security framework for migrants – potentially through an inter-state self-registration process. While there do currently exist multiple schemes for migrant welfare linked with Aadhar, they require greater inter-state coordination for better implementation at the state level.