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Internal Migration Patterns in Pakistan—The Case for Fiscal Decentralisation


  • Mahreen Mahmud

    (Centre for Research in Economics and Business, Lahore School of Economics)

  • Tareena Musaddiq

    (Lahore University of Management Sciences)

  • Farah Said

    (Lahore University of Management Sciences, Lahore)


This paper analyses the degree of integration between provinces in Pakistan through the internal migration patterns in the country. It establishes empirically the rationality of both urban-urban and rural-urban migrants in the country who are found to respond to economic incentives when choosing the destination district. Internal migration in the last ten years stands at a mere 2.3 percent, with less than a quarter of these people moving across provinces. This trend shows little or no improvement over time, hinting at the continued rigidity of provincial boundaries. An in-depth look at the migration patterns reveals that the concentration of flows is towards the provincial and federal capitals (56 percent). In light of fiscal decentralisation, this unipolar migration trend highlights the importance of fair and equitable resource distribution amongst provinces

Suggested Citation

  • Mahreen Mahmud & Tareena Musaddiq & Farah Said, 2010. "Internal Migration Patterns in Pakistan—The Case for Fiscal Decentralisation," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 49(4), pages 593-607.
  • Handle: RePEc:pid:journl:v:49:y:2010:i:4:p:593-607

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Andrew P. Barkley, 1991. "The Determinants of Interdistrict Labour In-migration in Pakistan, 1971-1980," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 30(3), pages 275-296.
    2. Yasuhiro Sato, 2004. "Migration, Frictional Unemployment, and Welfare-Improving Labor Policies," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(4), pages 773-793.
    3. Nong Zhu & Xubei Luo, 2010. "The impact of migration on rural poverty and inequality: a case study in China," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 41(2), pages 191-204, March.
    4. Quisumbing, Agnes R. & McNiven, Scott, 2005. "Migration and the rural-urban continuum: Evidence from the Rural Philippines," FCND discussion papers 197, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    5. Zhang, Kevin Honglin & Song, Shunfeng, 2003. "Rural-urban migration and urbanization in China: Evidence from time-series and cross-section analyses," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 386-400.
    6. Pingle, Jonathan F., 2007. "A note on measuring internal migration in the United States," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 94(1), pages 38-42, January.
    7. Kanbur, Ravi & Venables, Anthony J., 2005. "SPATIAL INEQUALITY AND DEVELOPMENT Overview of UNU-WIDER Project," Working Papers 127127, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
    8. Prabir C. Bhattacharya, 1998. "Migration, employment and development: a three-sector analysis," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(7), pages 899-921.
    9. Charles M. Tiebout, 1956. "A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64, pages 416-416.
    10. Mitra, Arup & Murayama, Mayumi, 2008. "Rural to Urban Migration: A District Level Analysis for India," IDE Discussion Papers 137, Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization(JETRO).
    11. Prabir C. Bhattacharya, 2002. "Rural-to-urban migration in LDCS: a test of two rival models," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(7), pages 951-972.
    12. Prabir C. Bhattacharya, 2000. "An analysis of rural-to-rural migration in India," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(5), pages 655-667.
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    Cited by:

    1. Heman D. Lohano, "undated". "Weather Variability, Agricultural Revenues and Internal Migration: Evidence from Pakistan," Working papers 99, The South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics.

    More about this item


    Labour Mobility; Fiscal Decentralisation;

    JEL classification:

    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy


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