How Statelessness and Out-Migration Drive Rural Inequality

Amanda Flaim, Michigan State University
Lindy Williams , Cornell University
Daniel Ahlquist, Michigan State University

A growing body of research shows that benefits and burdens of adult out-migration from rural communities undergoing agrarian transformation accrue differentially to left-behind elderly according to a range of demographic factors. Drawing on survey and ethnographic research among highlanders in Thailand, we examine how statelessness among out-migrants and the left-behind elderly influences the frequency with which remittances are received by elderly parents who remain at home. We find that out-migration improves household well-being via remittance income when out-migrants are citizens, but not when they are stateless. Ethnographic research indicates that this disparity results from the association between statelessness and dangerous internal border crossings, and from disadvantages that accumulate over the life-course among stateless people. In an era of unprecedented irregular migration and prolonged global statelessness, this research offers heretofore unexamined insight into some of the ways that statelessness drives village inequalities in the Global South.

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 Presented in Session 7. Migration & Urbanization