Migration slowing, population growth declining

Delhi’s Human Development Report 2013 finds migrants to be better educated than before, more satisfied with their jobs

September 02, 2013 09:37 am | Updated November 16, 2021 11:27 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

Daily wage labourers in New Delhi. Photo: V.V. Krishnan

Daily wage labourers in New Delhi. Photo: V.V. Krishnan

Migration to Delhi is falling, and the average migrant is better-off and better educated than before, Delhi’s Human Development Report 2013 has revealed. Closely tied to this is the changed nature of employment.

Delhi’s population growth has slowed down on account of falling fertility and declining in-migration, the report said. The 2012-13 Economic Survey of Delhi had noted that a large number of migrants are now settling down in other parts of the National Capital Region, such as Faridabad and Ghaziabad.

In a survey of 8,000 demographically representative respondents for the new human development report, the Delhi-based Institute for Human Development (IHD) found that 16 per cent of Delhi residents moved to the city within the past 20 years. With 4.6 per cent of respondents saying they moved to Delhi between six and 10 years ago, and 4.1 per cent saying they moved less than five years ago, the researchers concluded that the rate of migration appeared to be slowing slightly. (However, these are figures for individual migrants; an IHD-IRMA survey in 2010 had found that 16 per cent of households were migrant households using the 10-year yardstick.)

These findings fit in with those of Amitabh Kundu, Professor of Economics at the Centre for the Study of Regional Development and Dean of the School of Social Sciences at Jawaharlal Nehru University, who has found that rural-urban migration, particularly to Indian megacities like Delhi, is slowing.

‘Education and training’ now ranks as the most important reason (40.4 per cent) for new migrants coming to the city and its importance appears to be growing with time. In contrast, older migrants were far more likely to come to the city in search of employment or better employment.

“There may be several reasons behind this decline in migration to Delhi for employment reasons, including the high cost of living (food, housing, transport, etc.) in Delhi as compared to that in other towns and cities,” the report suggested.

Two out of three recent migrants have a family member who has completed higher education; just one out of four migrants who came to Delhi over 10 years ago had a family member with a higher education certificate. The occupation of the main earner in a migrant household is also changing. The proportion of migrating professionals has increased, while that of service workers and skilled, low-paid workers has declined. Migrants also report greater satisfaction with employment opportunities and their lifestyles than non-migrants, a possible effect of comparing with the places they came from.

The changing nature of the migrant might in part have to do with the changing nature of employment in the city. Employment in Delhi is dominated by four sectors, the report showed: trade, hotels and restaurants (30.5 per cent of all employment); manufacturing (27.6 per cent); public administration, education, health and other services (15.5 per cent); and finance, real estate and business activities (12.3 per cent).

Over the last 10 years, the highest increase in the share employment has been in finance, real estate and business. The industry that is declining fastest is that of traditional embroidery and zari work, where 82,000 jobs were shed over the past five years alone.

Simultaneously, Delhi’s employment is getting more informal. The share of the organised sector in employment, particularly that of the public sector, is falling and 85 per cent of Delhi’s workers are now in the informal sector. However, regular employment is growing as against casual labour, and the average wages are growing slowly.

Delhi’s richest 20 per cent is comprised primarily of “professionals” — managers, operators, officers, engineers as well as clerks, defence workers and police personnel — while domestic workers, cleaners, washermen, caretakers and gardeners as well as construction workers, masons, plumbers, painters and welders make up the bottom 60 per cent.

But, while the rate of migration has either declined or stabilised, Delhi still continues to be an attractive destination for those seeking better employment — 75,000 people come to Delhi every year according to the Economic Survey. Most migrants come to Delhi from Uttar Pradesh (46.5 per cent) and Bihar (30.7 per cent) according to the IHD survey.

“There is enormous migration to Delhi and these are people who never go back,” Delhi’s Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said at the release of the report over the weekend. “But I am happy about it. Delhi is the Capital city and it belongs to everyone,” she said.

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