Are Migrant Households better off than Non-Migrant Households? Evidence from Ghana

Type Report
Title Are Migrant Households better off than Non-Migrant Households? Evidence from Ghana
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2015
This paper examines the relationships between migration and poverty outcomes in Ghana. It draws upon data collected in 2013 on a sample of 1412 households. We provide a description of the survey methodology and interrogate the data to explore key characteristics of households with and without migrants, features of the migration decision and remittance patterns, and associations between migration and perceptions of poverty.. Our results suggest that while poor households find it difficult to embark on international migration, they are more able to access destinations within Ghana. Many of the migrants moved to another town or village in Africa for work-related reasons, notably job transfer, work, or seek work/better work. In view of inequalities in resource endowments, internal migrants tend to move from the relatively poorer Volta Region and the Northern Savannah zone to the Greater Accra and Ashanti Regions. Women are less likely to migrate than men because of their reproductive and care responsibilities. A higher dependency ratio lowers the probability of migrating for women, but not for men. This may imply that women’s capacity or inclination to migrate is often constrained by their having to stay behind to take care of very young children or ageing parents. Young adults and highly educated people are more likely to migrate than other groups. Whereas majority of migrants were engaged in agricultural/farm activities before migration, the occupational dynamics of migrants changed and in favour of ‘sales worker-ship’. Majority of the migrants sent remittances back to their families left behind, either in the form of cash or goods. Using questions around perceptions of poverty and well-being, we find that generally migration is viewed as being a route out of poverty. A slightly higher percentage of migrant households felt that their financial situation had improved a lot or somewhat improved compared to non-migrant households. Having current migrants within Ghana, either male or female, is associated with greater perceptions of adequacy of financial situation of the household, possibly suggesting a steady remittance flow helping to smooth income and consumption. However, male migrants are more likely to belong to households who report an improvement in their financial situation, while female migrants seem to be drawn more evenly across households. We conclude that internal migration is contributing positively to wellbeing of migrant’s households. We therefore urge the need to incorporate internal migration into development policy in Ghana.

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