Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Research Report

Reworking the land: A review of literature on the role of migration and remittances in the rural livelihoods of Southeast Asia

Rob Cole
Grace Wong
Maria Brockhaus
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2015
Pages: 42
OPEN ACCESS
https://www.jstor.org/stable/resrep02385
  • Cite this Item

Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-2)

    This paper reviews literature on migration within and from rural areas of Southeast Asia to examine the resulting, often transformative, effects of redistribution of labor and remittances on livelihoods and land-use practices. The paper further seeks to identify contexts in which migration drives, yet is also driven by, social and environmental change. Accelerating rural change across the developing world has been accompanied in many cases by heightened human mobility, and migration has increasingly been acknowledged as both a contributing factor and a consequence of agrarian transitions (Kelly 2011). Agricultural returns are declining both at household level and as a share...

  2. (pp. 3-5)

    Trends and estimates of migration are commonly based on data of mixed quality, often due to weak, inconsistent and non-standardized national collection and much irregular (undocumented) movement. Recent figures place worldwide international migration at approximately 214 million persons, and internal migrants at about 740 million (UNDP 2009). The latter figure in particular has been noted as somewhat speculative (King and Skeldon 2010), as are all internal estimates in contexts of increasing mobility, deficient registration processes, inadequate censuses and bureaucracies that struggle to keep pace with social change (Anh et al. 2012), particularly where temporary movements dominate, which national statistics usually...

  3. (pp. 6-8)

    To frame discussion of empirical studies on migration in Southeast Asia in the next section, it is useful to first consider the evolution of migration theories and discourse that has underpinned later research. These have generally approached migration in the context of economic development, at the outset in terms of internal, rural-urban flows, and significantly expanded since the mid-twentieth century in parallel with broader shifts in social and economic theory.

    Ways of thinking about the dynamics of migration often draw lineage back to Ravenstein’s Laws of migration (1885, 1889), that theorizes a kind of gravitational pull exerted over migrants by...

  4. (pp. 9-18)

    Having framed relevant theoretical developments, this section discusses findings of selected empirical studies that examine migration as an increasingly important aspect of rural livelihoods in Southeast Asia amid broader social, economic and environmental change. These changes are in turn influenced by the integration of rural regions within global markets with far-reaching impacts that significantly reshape land use (Hecht 2010). In Southeast Asia, intraregional trade between the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is surging (The Economist 2014), and is expected to continue to do so as the region further strengthens integration under the upcoming ASEAN Economic Community....

  5. (pp. 19-20)

    This paper has reviewed the literature on migration within and from rural areas of Southeast Asia to examine the resulting, often transformative effects of the redistribution of labor and remittances on livelihoods and land-use practices. The paper has further sought to understand contexts in which migration drives, yet is also driven by, social and environmental change, identifying some of these effects in the context of rural Southeast Asia, and highlighting gaps in the literature, along with areas of contention and debate.

    Trends and estimates of migration remain challenged by the diversity of human mobility at multiple scales, composed of households...

  6. (pp. 21-21)

    There remain numerous underexplored areas in the study of migration in Southeast Asia that offer many avenues for further research. Understanding of the linkages between migration and land use can be strengthened by spatially situated studies in different geographical settings across the region. Of particular importance to changes to forest cover would be studies focusing on upland and frontier areas, where rural communities continue to construct livelihoods around traditional agricultural practices and forest resources, but increasingly also featuring commodity production and wage-based migration. Pertinent lines of inquiry that could be followed in Southeast Asian contexts might extend from Deshingkar’s comparative...