Rural migration in sub-Saharan Africa: patterns, drivers and relation to structural transformation : Rural employment working paper
This paper examines the patterns and drivers of rural migration in sub-Saharan Africa and explores their relation to rural and structural transformation, with the objective of informing the current policy debate on migration.
Based on a mixed approach that combines a critical literature review covering past, current and future drivers of migration and analyses of available data, the paper elaborates a pluri-disciplinary and comprehensive conceptual framework for understanding the drivers and patterns of rural migration.
Sub?Saharan Africa has a long history of internal and international migration, by choice or by constraint, and movement of people has deeply shaped the region.
According to available statistics, about 33 million Africans were living outside their country of nationality in 2015.
This represents 2.8 percent of the total population of the continent and only 14 percent of international migrants worldwide (UNDESA, 2015). The paper finds that, in addition to one-way rural-urban migration, contemporary African migration is characterized by widespread multi-directional (including rural-to-rural and urban-to-rural) and circular migration.
These patterns reveal that migration is performing a range of socio-economic functions far beyond the mere transfer of labour from agriculture to other sectors or from rural to urban areas.
They highlight possible new structural transformation paths, responding to existing challenges faced by the region in terms of demographic and economic transition.