Compared to 2014, a significant decline in the number of people going overseas for work from Kerala has been registered last year, according to a report in the Mint newspaper. Around 2.25 million Malayalis migrated to foreign nations in 2016, a drop of 154,320 from 2014, as per the initial draft of a survey conducted by Centre for Development Studies (CDS), based in Thiruvananthapuram. The figures mark a fundamental shift in a pattern set by the coastal state since the last 50 years.
According to the report, this is the first time the number has gone down since CDS started conducting the migration survey in 1998. The figures are also worrying considering the fact that the state receives an estimated Rs 1 trillion in remittances every year from Malayalis working overseas. Most of them reside in oil-abundant West Asian countries like Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates.
Out of Kerala’s 30 million population, around 10 percent live overseas and the remittances they send play a pertinent role in the state’s economy. It has also been considered as one of the primary reasons behind the state’s unusually high ranking on human development indices — which is on a level with some of the developed nations despite significant unemployment. The report also suggested that last year’s drop in crude oil prices dealt a severe blow to the state’s economy.
“The migration has been declining for some time. We expect the remittances to decline likely by 10% going ahead every year,” Irudaya Rajan, a CDS economist who led the survey, was quoted as saying by the Mint. Reflecting further on Kerala’s dwindling migration to overseas, he listed decline in wages and rising job insecurity as other reasons behind the waning interest of Malayalis to travel overseas.“In two months’ time, we will present the full report. But we don’t expect the numbers to change much in the final estimate,” he said.