PublicationsSystematic reviewsWhat are the effects of various interventions and approaches used for enhancing poverty reduction and development benefits of ‘within country migration’ in South Asia? A systematic review
What are the effects of various interventions and approaches used for enhancing poverty reduction and development benefits of ‘within country migration’ in South Asia? A systematic review

What do we want to know?

South Asia has a heterogeneous group of countries which create a wide range of push and pull factors such as civil war, employment search, environmental variations, and internal conflicts inducing within country migration. Policies focusing on the root cause and the pull factors inducing migration would aid in facilitating and deriving benefits both at the sending and receiving locations minimizing the vulnerabilities faced by migrants. Given the heterogeneity in the policy interventions methods, implementation challenges, demographics and outcomes a rigorous review of research evidence on the impact of both the direct and indirect interventions for migrants in South Asian is required for improved policy advocacy. The aim of this systematic review is to synthesise the findings of quantitative and narrative research conducted on the benefits of interventions for migrants and to assess the impact of various interventions in terms of outcomes, direct/indirect effects and circumstances that make the intervention succeed or fail.    

Review objectives

The specific objectives of the proposed overview of systematic reviews are to assess: 

  • the models of fostering internal migration and its causal links for poverty alleviation
  • the role of state and non-state agencies in addressing the issue of internal migration
  • the effects of targeted interventions on specific categories, such as gender
  • the type of interventions and their implementation impact cost of migration and human capital enhancements

What did we find?

The outcomes of interventions were examined at an aggregate level on income effects, human development effects and effects on regions.  At an aggregate level it is observed that 65% of the evidence indicated positive effects on one or more categories of outcomes, which essentially points to the overall positive effects of interventions on within country migration. Meta-analysis on two broad outcomes at an aggregate level indicate an overall positive effect due to the fact that Indirect interventions produce positive outcomes on both income and human development while direct interventions produces positive effects only on human development. The larger effect of indirect interventions is due to the fact that they are multicomponent interventions designed for accomplishing multiple objectives.

In the context of India, government is the dominant intervening agency focusing on enhancing human development. In Bangladesh the majority of the interventions are aimed at enhancing human development and to widen the labour market are by non–governmental agencies.  Since, in Afghanistan, migration is due to vulnerability arising out of civil war, the initiatives are indirect and are multicomponent aimed at improving the living conditions of the poor. Unlike in the case of Afghanistan where the interventions are by global development agencies, the interventions have been predominantly by the Government in Sri Lanka. In addition, social networks have been crucial in realising the full potential of interventions on human capital improvements in Sri Lanka. Similar to India and Bangladesh, employment seeking is the primary motive for migration in Pakistan. This is addressed through indirect initiatives which are multicomponent by both the Government and the private entrepreneurial initiatives. 

What are the implications?

The assessment of the effectiveness of various interventions aimed either directly or indirectly at improving the quality of life of the migrants has produced positive results of varying magnitude. This is because of the country context in question, the push and pull factors for migration, nature and type of interventions, data and methods used for assessing the effectiveness. It emerges that currently the interventions are more universal. There exists a need for specifically targeted interventions addressing the needs based on the push or pull factor for migration, the nature of migration and the type of migrant (individual or household). The current intervention, which is more of a supply side intervention, also needs to take into account the demand aspects of specific groups and regions. This review shows that there exists a need for refinement in assessing interventions in order to enhance their effectiveness. 

How did we get these results?

Sixty eight studies were included for the overall systematic review. Sixteen studies from the total pool were used for conducting meta-analysis and all sixty eight were used for narrative synthesis. We used both electronic database search on Springer link, Science direct, EBSCO, Emerald, Wiley online library, ProQuest, JSTOR, SSRN, Taylor and Francis, Web of Science and PubMed as well as hand search of key journals, author correspondences and website searches. In addition, the Cochrane Library and the Campbell Collaboration Library were reviewed. We also searched existing systematic reviews to ensure that all the studies included in the earlier systematic reviews in similar domains are identified and examined for inclusion. The identified studies went through a series of inclusion and exclusion criteria for being included in the synthesis. Data were extracted from the included studies and synthesised using meta-analysis as well as narratively. Risk of bias assessment was used to evaluate the quality of the included studies. These outcome data for included studies were collected, along with information on sub-groups such as country, effect size, research design and types of intervention for synthesis. 

The review should be cited as:

Babu MS, Gopalaswamy AK, Baskar V, and Dash U (2017) Effects of interventions and approaches for enhancing poverty reduction and development benefits of ‘within country migration’ in South Asia. A systematic review. London: EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, UCL Institute of Education, University College London.


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