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Urban Migration in Myanmar: An Analysis of Migration Patterns and Migrant Well-being

dc.contributor.authorRobert O’Connor
dc.description.abstractMigration to urban areas has been a critical dimension of urbanization in Myanmar and has been driven primarily by economic and environmental forces. Climate change has increased instances of flooding and natural disasters have created populations of environmental refugees who have moved to urban areas. The allure of economic opportunities has attracted people from rural areas, with considerable potential to accelerate Myanmar’s economic development. But development is not guaranteed, and it can come at a high cost for those who live in urban areas and face increasing strain from overcrowding, high costs of living and stretched government services.1 Life can be particularly hard for those who move to cities, Myanmar’s urban migrants. While there is a growing body of research on internal urban migration in Myanmar, studies are still limited in number and scope. Most recent quantitative studies have been conducted in rural areas, comparing the financial well-being between migrants and those that have stayed in their villages. Research into the characteristics and experiences of migrants across urban locations is primarily qualitative and focused on Yangon. The 2018 City Life Survey (CLS) dataset presents an opportunity to conduct quantitative analysis of urban migration across cities and among townships in Yangon. This Discussion Paper looks at migration trends in Yangon and Mandalay and employs different analytical tools to identify the different types of migrants in the dataset and compare their experiences. The findings corroborate existing research and narratives around urban migration in Myanmar. The paper also presents results that, at least at first glance, appear to challenge existing conventional wisdom. For instance, analysis of 2018 CLS data suggests that the rate of migration may have slowed in four out of the five cities surveyed. In Yangon, the typical focus on the number of migrants moving into specific townships such as Hlaing Tharyar can mask shifting dynamics, with one third of respondents in Dagon Seikkan having arrived there since 2012. And while recent migrants face many challenges and lower life satisfaction, they report that it is easier to find work than less educated non-migrants. More fundamentally, 2018 CLS data illustrates the heterogeneity of migrants and cautions against generalizing about migrants’ urban experiences, as data on the “average” migrant can be misleading.
dc.publisherThe Asia Foundation
dc.titleUrban Migration in Myanmar: An Analysis of Migration Patterns and Migrant Well-being
dc.typeDiscussion Paper
dc.subject.expertCash transfer
dc.subject.expertSocial planning
dc.subject.expertSocial policy
dc.subject.expertSocial administration
dc.subject.expertSocial security
dc.subject.expertSocial services
dc.subject.expertSocial welfare
dc.subject.adbTrade in services
dc.subject.adbServices sector
dc.subject.adbGATS (General Agreement for Trade in Services)
dc.subject.adbMarket access
dc.subject.adbGuest workers
dc.subject.adbWork permission
dc.subject.adbRural Urban Migration
dc.subject.naturalMigrant workers
dc.subject.naturalAccess to healthcare
oar.themeLabor Migration
oar.themeSocial Protection
oar.adminregionSoutheast Asia Region
oar.authorO’Connor, Robert

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