Migration still on the rise as job opportunities shrink in Kerala

The glamour associated with Gulf emigration is still very strong among the Kerala youngsters.

Written by Shalini Langer | Thiruvananthapuram | Updated: September 18, 2014 1:17:04 pm

The Kerala Migration Survey-2014 has found that flow of Keralites to abroad still continues mainly because of the state’s inability to provide suitable jobs for the increasing number of educated youths. Apart from this, the glamour associated with Gulf emigration is still strong among the state’s youth.

The study was conducted by Prof K C Zachariah and S Irudaya Rajan of the Research Unit on International Migration at the Centre for Development Studies (CDS), Thiruvananthapuram. The report was released on Wednesday. This was the sixth in the series of a migration study conducted by the CDS for Kerala Planning Board.

The increase in migration in the latest survey was contrary to the forecast in the previous survey in 2011 that migration would decline within three to four years.

“Kerala is not able to create enough jobs suitable for an increasingly larger number of youngsters with a secondary or higher level of education. As long as the employment conditions in Kerala (among the educated youths) does not improve, more of the Kerala youngsters could be expected to try their luck abroad,” said the study.

Besides, the glamour associated with Gulf emigration is still very strong among the Kerala youngsters. This is an important positive factor in their decision to emigrate instead of working in the state.

The sample size of the survey was 14,575 households distributed across Kerala. The reference point in the study is taken as March 1, 2014, which is three years after the previous study in 2011.

The number of Kerala emigrants as estimated by the migration survey in 2014 is 23.63 lakhs. The corresponding number was 22.81 lakhs in 2011, 21.93 lakhs in 2008, 18.38 lakhs in 2003 and 13.62 lakhs in 1998. These numbers indicate that emigration from Kerala has been increasing since 1998. Between 2011 and 2014, the total number of emigrants from Kerala increased by about 81,000.

The report said remittances to Kerala have continued to grow ever since Keralites started migrating to the Gulf region. Total remittances to Kerala during the 12-month period ending in March 1, 2014 were Rs 72,680 crores.

This amount is about 46 percent higher than the remittances in 2011. These numbers indicate that the rate of growth of remittances has accelerated in recent years in spite of the slowing down of the annual increase of emigration from the state since 2008.

The total of all the household remittances in Kerala during the 12 month period prior to 1st March 2014 was Rs 15,129 crores. The corresponding remittance in 2008 was Rs 12, 511 crores.

Out of the total remittances of Rs 15,129 crores, Rs 7029 crores were received by the Muslim community alone. This amounts to about 46.5 percent of the total remittances. This percentage is higher than the per cent of Muslim emigrants which was only 43.5 percent.

In the total population of Kerala, Muslim population is only about 26.5 percent and Muslim households are only 21.8 percent of the total households in the state. According to both per capita-wise and household-wise analysis, Muslims in Kerala receive a much higher share of the remittances that come to Kerala. While more than half of the Muslim households have either an emigrant or return emigrant, less than a fifth of the Hindu households have an emigrant or return emigrant.

The United Arab Emirates which attracted 38.7 percent of the Kerala emigrants retained the first position with respect to emigration among all countries. However, its relative share declined from 41.9 percent in 2008 to 38.7 percent in 2011. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia improved its relative position accommodating 25.2 percent of the emigrants from Kerala.

Kuwait and Qatar are the other Gulf countries that have improved their relative share of Kerala emigrants. Among the countries outside the Gulf region, the principal ones are the USA and the United Kingdom. While the relative share of-Kerala emigrants in the UK increased, that of has USA decreased.

Along with the increase in migration, the number of return emigrants has also increased. The number of return emigrants (REM) to Kerala in 2014 was 12.48 lakhs, which is about 52 percent of the number of emigrants. The corresponding numbers were 11.50 lakhs in 2011.

The largest number of emigrants from Kerala in 2014 originated from Malappuram district; 444,100 or 18.8 percent of the total. Kannur District comes second with 290,000 emigrants or 12.4 percent of the total. Trivandrum district and Thrissur district comes third and fourth respectively. Wayanad and Idukki districts come last, as the 13th and the14th in that order.

Muslim-dominated Malappuram district was the origin of the largest number of emigrants in 2014; it also had the highest number of emigrants in previous years. It has been retaining its number one position in all the migration surveys.

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