Temporary and seasonal migration in India

Kunal Keshri, Ram B. Bhagat



Several household level studies have documented widespread temporary and seasonal migration in different parts of India, but there has been a dearth of information on the magnitude and characteristics of temporary and seasonal migration at the state and national levels. This is mainly because the census does not provide information on temporary and seasonal migration and the National Sample Survey has not collected temporary migration data until 1999-2000. In this study, we analyze the unit level data on temporary and seasonal migration from the 1999-2000 National Sample Survey to understand the intensity and regional/state wise variation, rural-urban differentials of temporary and seasonal migration, and their association with poverty and illiteracy. The study shows that temporary and seasonal migration is more prevalent in rural than urban areas. We also find that poor, particularly socially backward groups known as Scheduled Tribes in India have a higher propensity to move temporarily. Temporary and seasonal migration has a significant and positive association with poverty and illiteracy in rural areas, but in urban areas better off households are more prone to migrate. The findings suggests that temporary and seasonal migration in rural India is mainly distress driven and predominantly among scheduled tribes, illiterates and the poorest of the poor.


Kunal KESHRI, Senior Research Fellow, International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai, India. E-mail:

Ram B. BHAGAT, Professor and Head, Department of Migration and Urban Studies, International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai, India. E-mail:


temporary; seasonal; migration; mobility; poor; illiterate;

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ISSN: 2035-5556

Reg. Tribunale di Roma n. 3321/54