Home and Away: Drivers and Perceptions of Migration Among Urban Migrants and their Rural Families in the Lower Mekong River Basin of Cambodia

44 Pages Posted: 1 Sep 2021

See all articles by Sabina Shaikh

Sabina Shaikh

University of Chicago - Program on Global Environment

Alan Kolata

University of Chicago, Department of Anthropology

Jonathan Johnson

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Michael Binford

University of Florida, Department of Geography

Date Written: August 30, 2021

Abstract

As the world becomes increasingly urbanized, cities across Asia continue to emerge and expand. Cambodian cities reflect this trend with rapid growth due principally to significant and continuing in-country migration. However, following the forced evacuation of cities during the Khmer Rouge regime in 1975, and subsequent rapid repopulation in the 1980’s, Cambodia’s urbanization is more recent than other Asian countries and, as a result, less investigated. This study examines rural-to-urban migration in five southern provinces around Phnom Penh—the capital and largest city in Cambodia—from the perspective of urban migrants and their rural family members. We examine how economic, environmental, and socio-cultural factors influence migrants’ current and desired movements, rural livelihoods, and the permanency of urban migration. While finding evidence to support three major theories of migration—income-differentials, environmental change, and social networks—we argue that none of these alone are sufficient to understand current migration patterns or urban migrants’ desire to return to their home village. We argue that explanations of Cambodian migration must account for the powerful, socio-cultural attraction of one’s home village and kinship, as well as the inseparability of two factors specific to provinces around Phnom Penh: the proliferation of access to microfinance and the rise of the garment industry. When these dimensions are considered, distinct patterns of migration become legible with significant implications for the viability of microfinance-backed adaptation strategies and rural livelihoods.

Keywords: Migration, Cambodia, Microfinance, Urban population, Rural livelihoods, Environment

JEL Classification: 020, 013, 015

Suggested Citation

Shaikh, Sabina and Kolata, Alan and Johnson, Jonathan and Binford, Michael, Home and Away: Drivers and Perceptions of Migration Among Urban Migrants and their Rural Families in the Lower Mekong River Basin of Cambodia (August 30, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3914359 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3914359

Sabina Shaikh (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Program on Global Environment ( email )

United States

Alan Kolata

University of Chicago, Department of Anthropology ( email )

Illinois, IL 60637
United States
(773) 702-7729 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://anthropology.uchicago.edu/people/faculty/alan-kolata

Jonathan Johnson

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Michael Binford

University of Florida, Department of Geography ( email )

3141 Turlington Hall
PO Box 117315
Gainesville, FL 32611
United States
(352) 294-7500 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://users.clas.ufl.edu/mbinford/

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