The number of people leaving Nepal to seek employment abroad has continued to increase. In a previous article, I showed that the number of labor migrants increased from 163, 886 in 2008 to 443, 483 in 2013. This is a staggering increase of 171% over just 5 years, an average growth of 34% per year. In contrast, Nepal’s economy grew at a modest 4% during this period. In other words, the rate of Nepalese leaving for jobs abroad is growing 8.5 times higher than its economy.
It is natural to ask, what are the factors responsible for a mass exodus of labor migrants from Nepal? It is true that Nepal is an economically poor nation with a per capita income of just US $1160 and has an astonishingly high unemployment rate of 46 percent. However, Nepal is not a homogeneous nation and parts of the nation differ in terms of literacy rate, human development index (HDI), per capita income, and other socioeconomic indicators.
There does not seem to be a strong correlation between literacy rate and the number of migrants. However, it can be seen that some districts in Tarai have high migration rate and low literacy rate. For instance, Dhanusa and Mahottari have the highest and second highest migration rate but 6th and 3rd lowest literacy rate respectively. Similarly, Siraha has the 5th highest migration and 5th lowest literacy rate as well. On the opposite extreme are Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, and Kaski with low migration and high literacy rate.
In the second half of the chart, the size of the circle correlates with the number of migrants and the color intensity correlates with literacy rate. A larger circle with lighter shading indicates a higher number of migrants and a lower literacy rate. It can be seen that Dhanusa, Mahottari, and Siraha have high migration but low literacy rate. Jhapa and Morang are the exceptions which have high migration but also high literacy rate.
There does not seem to be a strong correlation with HDI and number of migrants either. However, Dhanusa, Mahottari, and Siraha again have lower HDI and high migration. On the opposite extreme are usual suspects: Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, and Kaski with low migration and high HDI. The exception once again are Jhapa and Morang with high migration and HDI.
In the second half of the chart, the size of the circle correlates with the number of migrants and the color intensity correlates with HDI. A larger circle with lighter shading indicates a higher number of migrants and a lower HDI.
From the two comparisons above, it is clear that there is not a strong correlation between number of migrants and literacy rate or HDI. However, the districts with high migration and low literacy rate such as Dhanusa and Mahottari also have low HDI. Similarly, the districts with low migration and high literacy rate, such as Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, and Kaski also have high HDI. The exceptions in both cases are Jhapa, and Morang with high migration, high literacy rate, and high HDI.
This work is part of a student media grant by the Center on Conflict and Development at Texas A&M University.
To read more: see The Confict and Development Center at Texas A&M University.
Data Source: Government of Nepal, Ministry of Labour and Employment. Labor Migration for Employment A Status Report for Nepal: 2013/2014. (2014). Retrieved November 1, 2015 from Asia Foundation.