Internal Migration and its Impact on Big Cities

Short Term and Seasonal Migration

Due to natural calamities, law and order situation, or similar other unwanted situation the move of people from one place to another for a short term residence and when the situation becomes normal they come back to the place of their origin.  For example, during the military operation of Malakand and South Waziristan due to the law and order situation, thousands of people had left their place of origin and settled in Mardan, Peshawar, Nowshera, Bannu, Karak, and Lakki Marwat.

Similarly, floods in Pakistan are another major reason for internal migration or displacement of masses from their hometowns. Floods in 2010 had affected millions of people in all the four provinces of Pakistan who migrated temporarily to safe destinations. Like-wise, displacement is also caused by Earthquakes. Displacement of millions of people was witnessed after the earthquake of 2005 in Pakistan when people living in northern areas and Kashmir were badly affected.

Impacts of migration

Positive Impacts

Migration help reduces pressure on agricultural land, provides opportunities for the rural unemployed and underemployed, and is associated with rising living standards and livelihood prospects at the household and community levels in the urban areas. It also relieves labor market pressure and generates remittances that constitute an important source of income for migrants’ families.

Economic and Social Up-lift

The migration of people to urban and metropolitan regions has contributed a lot to the national economy. According to the 1998 population census, 10.8 million (8 percent of the total population) were migrants. Population statistics of Pakistan indicate that more than half of the total population of the country is residing in eight big cities i.e. Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Multan, Hyderabad, Gujranwala, and Peshawar. These urban areas in Pakistan have become major contributors to the national economy, generating and diffusing growth across the country. About 78% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) is contributed by urban areas[4]. The rising per capita income in the country is mainly due to the increasing productivity of the urban economy.

Better Aspects of Education

According to Labour Force Survey, 1996-97, 60.5% of males and 39.5% of females have migrated to seek better education in Pakistan during the period of said survey. As such, Migration has tremendously helped the marginalized communities and individuals especially in the rural areas of Pakistan to acquire better education. A new middle-class has emerged which has somewhat shaken the ages-old class-based structure of the society in the rural areas. This has helped in the promotion of a democratic polity as many from this new middle class are playing a role in the political and democratic process of the country. Because of getting higher education, the standard of living of many of these returnee migrants and/or their dependents has undergone significant improvement. Improved economic conditions and awareness have promoted the trend of sending their children for education.

Rising Living Standard

Migration is a routine livelihood strategy of poor households that helps to smooth seasonal income fluctuations and earn extra cash to meet contingencies or increase disposable income. It is one of many activities in the diversification portfolio of households and is undertaken if and when there is surplus labor in the household and when it can be combined successfully with other activities either in parallel or in sequence. Migration can be either a component of individuals’ diversification strategies or household diversification strategies. In the case of seasonal work at the destination, migration is undertaken at certain times of the year for a certain duration.

Negative impacts

There is no denying that Migration plays a pivotal role in the development of a region or a country. However, there are certain limits after which the excessive/ un-balanced migration causes negative consequences. Internal Migration being an unplanned movement to cities causes economic, social, and environmental problems for the cities and citizens. The following table shows the population of some big cities.

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