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Seasonal Poverty and Seasonal Migration in Asia

Ahmed Mobarak () and Maira Emy Reimão ()
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Maira Emy Reimão: Assistant Professor, University of Florida. E-mail:

Authors registered in the RePEc Author Service: Maira Emy Reimao

Asian Development Review, 2020, vol. 37, issue 1, 1-42

Abstract: Four in five poor people in the Asia and Pacific region live in rural areas. Crop cycles in agrarian areas create periods of seasonal deprivation, or preharvest “lean seasons,†when work is scarce and skipped meals become frequent. In this paper, we document this phenomenon of seasonal poverty and discuss existing formal mechanisms for coping with it. We then focus on seasonal migration from rural to urban areas as a potential coping strategy and review the evidence on the effects of encouraging seasonal migration through transport subsidies. Over the past 10 years, we have conducted a series of randomized control trials in Bangladesh and Indonesia that provided rural agricultural workers with small migration subsidies to pay for the cost of round-trip travel to nearby areas in search of work. This paper summarizes the lessons learned from this multicountry, multiyear series of seasonal migration trials, the implications of these results for spatial misallocation, urbanization, and growth, and the replicability and relevance of this and other policies encouraging domestic migration more broadly for other areas in the Asia and Pacific region.

Keywords: Asia; Bangladesh; migration; seasonal poverty; seasonality (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J61 O12 O15 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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