Sunday, 20 January 2013

New paper: education, urban poverty and migration in Bangladesh and Vietnam

For my second working paper for UNICEF's Office of Research I analysed some data from two recent household surveys focusing on urban poor groups. The first was collected in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in 2008, as part of CREATE (and also used here [pdf] and here [£]). The second was the 2009 Urban Poverty Survey in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, Vietnam. I focused on rural-urban migration as a factor explaining urban children's school attendance and how much their parents spent on their education. In Dhaka I found (among a sample living in informal settlements) that rural-urban migrants, and especially recent arrivals, had lower levels of adult education, fewer assets, and lived in worse housing conditions, than non-migrants. Even with statistical controls in place for these differences, children of migrant households had worse educational outcomes than those from those from native households. In Vietnam a major issue was the hokhau system under which households are officially registered as living in a particular area, with consequences for their rights to service provision. Migrant households who had not managed to obtain local registration in the city were worse off than others, and the gap was bigger among the poorest households.

So an obvious question is, are specific policies or policies needed for migrants distinct from those needed for other poor urban groups? Given that migrants, and especially recent migrants, were among the poorest, they would tend to benefit from programmes (stipends, school meals, alternative schooling) that effectively target urban poor households in general. But there were clearly some areas where migrants had specific needs. As well as lifting explicit barriers like hokhau, what seems to be needed is reform to deal with the mobility of populations and rapid growth of migrant-receiving areas within cities, and to help new migrants settle in the city and get the services they are entitled to.

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