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Migration and Wellbeing at the Lower Echelons of the Economy: A Study of Delhi Slums

Discussion Papers


by Arup Mitra and TSUJITA Yuko
March 2006


This paper based on a primary survey of households (2004-05) in the slum clusters of Delhi examines whether migrants are likely to experience upward mobility in their place of destination or alternatively, if they merely transfer their poverty from rural areas to large cities. First, a simple bifurcation of population in terms of poor and non-poor sub-groups is examined along with the incidence of poverty across different categories of occupations and non-workers. Then, an explanation of the variations in per capita expenditure across households is provided, and a binomial logit model (poor/non-poor) is developed identifying the variables which raise (or reduce) the probability of being non-poor (or poor). Next, an estimate of the wellbeing (deprivation) index is derived from factor analysis of a large number of variables including demographic and economic aspects of households.

Empirical findings suggest that while duration of migration and the wellbeing index do not have a definite relationship, migrant households who have been in the city for a very long time have a higher wellbeing index on average than those who migrated in the last ten years. This tends to support the view that migrants do not merely transfer rural poverty to urban areas, and further that population mobility yields improvement in the living standard, if only in the very long term. Implementation of “employment-cum-shelter” support schemes in the urban areas may contribute to their wellbeing.

Keywords: wellbeing, migrant worker, slum
JEL classification: I31, I32, J61, R23

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