The logic of letting go: Family and individual migration from rural Bangladesh

Randall Steven Kuhn, University of Pennsylvania


This dissertation studies the migration of individuals and the migration of nuclear family units from households in rural Matlab to urban areas of Bangladesh. A model of the determinants of individual versus family migration tests the factors leading to migration as a community-oriented act versus migration as a self-oriented act, providing a test between the conditions of the New Economics of Labor Migration and the Wage Differential Model of Migration among households from the same migrant-sending area. Results show that family migration occurs if (1) the migrating unit cannot gain meaningful insurance from its origin household, because the household lacks physical or social assets, or (2) the migrating unit does not need insurance from the household, since individual endowments such as education lead to economic success independent of rural resources. Results also show that a past history of one of these two types of migration in a given community has a positive association with future practice of that same type of migration while it has no effect or a negative effect on the other type of migration. Further qualitative and quantitative analysis studies migrant success indicators (job and housing acquisition) and urban-rural interactions (remittances, rural visits, network formation, return migration) conditional on whether an adult male migrant was married with spouse present in the city, married with spouse living in his village, or unmarried (referred to as conjugal status). This analysis serves four functions: (1) Demonstrates the importance of migrant conjugal status as a primary stratifying variable, not merely a main effect, when modeling post-migration behaviors. (2) Links above micro-level analyses to structural explanations of urban-rural dependence. (3) Details the multi-directional pathways linking migrant endowments, migrant success, and post-migration behaviors. (4) Documents vulnerable family migrants' use of informal and casual economic activities to address immediate short-term consumption needs while coping with inadequate access to either informal rural security mechanisms (held by individual migrants) or formal security mechanisms (held by secure family migrants).

Subject Area

Demographics|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology|Social structure

Recommended Citation

Kuhn, Randall Steven, "The logic of letting go: Family and individual migration from rural Bangladesh" (1999). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9953556.