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Issues in the Measurement of Female Migration in Developing Countries


Bilsborrow, Richard E. (1993). Issues in the Measurement of Female Migration in Developing Countries. New York: U.N. Department of Economic and Social Information and Policy Analysis.


This detailed report on migrating women in developing countries is based on the UN expert meeting. The present overall patterns of migration suggest a movement over time to greater rural-urban migration and more balanced distribution of migrants by gender regardless of destination. General characterizations of female migrants is not possible. Women migrate for a variety of reasons. The suggestion is for more research on community related factors influencing female migration. Areas of origin and destination and female characteristics influence the success of female migration. Lack of detailed information prevents a more complex view of the impact of men's migration on wives left behind. Development policy must account for women's role in migration. This report is structured with an introduction to internal female migration and development prepared by Richard Bilsborrow and the UN Secretariat. The following seven parts are devoted to the report and recommendations of the expert meeting, an article by Graeme Hugo on migrant women in developing countries, data collection and measurement issues, characterizations of female migrants (a Mexican census view, a medium sized Argentinean city view, and the female labor force in Bangkok), the determinants of migration, the consequences, and development and policy issues. Female internal migration is traced during 1960-80. Articles on the determinants of female migration focus on the role of gender, structural determinants, a multilevel perspective, an example from rural Mali on social appearances and economic realities, and the role of wage differences in determination of migration selectivity by sex in Brazil. The three articles on migration consequences are concerned with the issues of emancipation or subordination, income aspirations and labor migration in Malaysia, and the impact of temporary migration for families in Jequitinhonha, Brazil. The final two articles on policy options are prepared by Gavin Jones and Alan Simmons. Simmons argues that women no longer have a weak and secondary role in relation to migration or employment. Government policies must make clear that female migration does improve lives and prospects. The review of the literature on agricultural and development policies indicates mixed or poor outcomes for women.

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Year Published


Series Title

Internal Migration of Women in Developing Countries: Proceedings of United Nations Expert Meeting on the Feminization of Internal Migration, Aguascalientes, Mexico, 22-25 October 1991


Bilsborrow, Richard E.