Selection, adaptation and vulnerability of internal forced migrants: A case study in Bogota, Colombia

Maria Aysa-Lastra, University of Pennsylvania


The objective of this research is to analyze the survival strategies of internal forced migrants in urban areas relative to the strategies adopted by voluntary migrants and natives. I focused on relative differentials on gender, socioeconomic conditions and occupation profiles. To achieve this goal, I develop a research design to collect comparable data on households with diverse migration experiences. I study the Colombian case where internal displacement is highly prevalent due to the ongoing armed conflict. The analysis of gender differentials and household composition reveals that forced migrant households are more likely to be composed by household head and spouse rather than headed by single females, as suggested in the literature. Moreover, forced migrant females are not more likely to find jobs than males. It is clear that the probability of employment in formal activities for forced migrants decreases over time preventing their ability to get out of poverty. The analysis of socioeconomic differentials explores four different dimensions: living conditions, consumption of durable goods, access to health care and education and self assessment of well-being. The results suggest that forced migrants had better living conditions in the place of longest residence than in Bogotá. In contrast, voluntary migrants enjoyed better living conditions in Bogotá than in their place of longest residence. Changes in the relative socioeconomic conditions of migrant groups are interpreted as an indication of negative selection of forced migrants into the domestic migration streams. Finally, I evaluate differentials in occupation profiles in the places of origin, the places of transition and in the final place of destination for economic, tied and forced migrants. There were no observed differences in the likelihood of employment in agriculture between forced migrants and economic migrants in the place of origin. In Bogotá, forced and economic migrants were more likely to be employed in informal and unstable activities related to coping strategies rather than cumulative strategies. The occupation profiles of forced migrants suggest that weak or absence of social networks in the areas of reception might help to explain the relative ineffective adaptation of forced migrants in the urban labor market.

Subject Area

Demographics|Social structure|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Aysa-Lastra, Maria, "Selection, adaptation and vulnerability of internal forced migrants: A case study in Bogota, Colombia" (2005). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3197646.