Debt Financed Migration to Consumption Smoothing: Tracing the Link between Migration and Food Security in Bangladesh
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Geography & Environmental Studies
Faculty of Arts
Dr. Margaret Walton-Roberts
Dr. Jonathan Crush
Dr. Alison Mountz
This dissertation is primarily focused on migration and food security linkages, more specifically the impact of migrants’ remittances on household food security, and the role of debt in financing migration. Using a multi-methods approach the dissertation focuses on the household level, but also sheds light on the related policy landscape linked to these resource issues. The dissertation consists of seven chapters, with four research finding chapters that are each self-contained and interdisciplinary. Each of these four chapters adds conceptually and empirically to the existing literature on migration and development.
Chapters one and two provide the introduction and literature review. Chapter three presents the findings on the impact of remittances on household food security. Using different food security indicators and scientifically validated measurement tools, this research shows that households receiving remittances are better off than non-receiving households in terms of food security conditions. It also shows that cash remittances are spent to maintain adequate food consumption levels, and therefore improve the ability to acquire a sufficient quality and quantity of food to meet household members’ nutritional requirements. Moreover, remittances help to improve households’ access to important nutritional inputs, provide dietary diversity and allow the households to cope with shocks that threaten its food security status.
Chapter four investigates the impact of remittances on households’ food security using quantitative models. Two Stage Least Square Instrumental Variable Method (2SLS-IV) and Generalised Method of Moments (GMM) are used for this study. Estimated results indicate that remittance influences the household’s food security conditions differently than other income sources. In general, remittances reduce food-related uncertainties and help the households to counterbalance food-related shocks and coping strategies. Moreover, remittances improve the dietary diversity which reflects the quality of diet and adequate micronutrient intake by the remittance receiving households. Overall, the results show that migration and the consequent remittances increase the probability of a household being food secured.
Chapter five presents a study on debt-financed migration and related resource backwash (reverse resource flows) and suggests that although migration has become an essential livelihood strategy for households in rural Bangladesh, in order to finance migration household deplete significant resources, land and other precautionary assets (assets that protect against risk) in order to gain access to migration opportunities. This research shows that debt is a critical component of the migration system in Bangladesh. Although households adopt a migration strategy to counterbalance income uncertainty, the migration system itself creates extreme precarity as households become riddled with migration related debt. Tragically often it takes the entire migration episode to service the debt.
Chapter six explores the policy landscape related to migrants’ remittances such as remittance infrastructure, public and private agents and institutions, microfinance institutions in the remittance market, and legal and regulatory frameworks relevant to remittance governance. This chapter demonstrates that remittance governance in Bangladesh is largely focused on shifting remittances away from informal channels to the formal banking system. To maximize the potential benefits of remittances it is necessary to direct individual and collective remittances toward productive investment and to use remittances to promote financial inclusion for marginal groups. Chapter seven concludes.
Moniruzzaman, Mohammad, "Debt Financed Migration to Consumption Smoothing: Tracing the Link between Migration and Food Security in Bangladesh" (2016). Theses and Dissertations (Comprehensive). 1848.