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What has been happening to Internal Labour Migration in South Africa, 1993-1999?


  • Dorrit Posel
  • Daniela Casale

    () (Division of Economics, University of Natal, Durban)


This paper attempts to redress the lack of research into temporary labour migration at a national level in South Africa. Using the 1993 Project for Statistics on Living Standards and Development and the 1995, 1997 and 1999 October Household Surveys, we explore three broad areas: the extent of labour migration over the period 1993 to 1999; the characteristics of migrant workers and how these have changed over time; and the economic ties that labour migrants have maintained with their households of origin. We find that labour migration from African rural areas has increased, driven largely by a rise in the proportion of women leaving their households of origin to work or to search for work. Using a simple multivariate regression analysis together with descriptive statistics, we explore some possible reasons for why there has been this increase in female migration. We also find that over the period migrants have retained strong economic ties with their households of origin, and that remittances remain an important share of income for these households. However, the analysis is limited by the paucity of data that exist on labour migrants in the national household surveys. We therefore have also sought, wherever possible, to expose the limitations of the data and the likely biases that result.

Suggested Citation

  • Dorrit Posel & Daniela Casale, 2003. "What has been happening to Internal Labour Migration in South Africa, 1993-1999?," Working Papers 03074, University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit.
  • Handle: RePEc:ctw:wpaper:03074

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Case, Anne & Deaton, Angus, 1998. "Large Cash Transfers to the Elderly in South Africa," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(450), pages 1330-1361, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Dieter von Fintel & Eldridge Moses, 2017. "Migration and gender in South Africa: following bright lights and the fortunes of others?," Working Papers 09/2017, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics, revised 2018.
    2. Chung Choe & E. LaBrent Chrite, 2014. "Internal Migration of Blacks in South Africa: An Application of the Roy Model," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 82(1), pages 81-98, March.
    3. Rachel E. Goldberg, 2013. "Family Instability and Pathways to Adulthood in Cape Town, South Africa," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 39(2), pages 231-256, June.
    4. Rashid Hassan & James Thurlow, 2011. "Macro–micro feedback links of water management in South Africa: CGE analyses of selected policy regimes," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 42(2), pages 235-247, March.
    5. Hunter, Mark, 2007. "The changing political economy of sex in South Africa: The significance of unemployment and inequalities to the scale of the AIDS pandemic," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 64(3), pages 689-700, February.
    6. Vincent Z. Kuuire & Paul Mkandawire & Isaac Luginaah & Godwin Arku, 2016. "Abandoning land in search of farms: challenges of subsistence migrant farming in Ghana," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 33(2), pages 475-488, June.
    7. Waidler, Jennifer, 2016. "On the fungibility of public and private transfers: A mental accounting approach," MERIT Working Papers 060, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    8. Dieter von Fintel & Dorrit Posel, 2014. "Errors in recalling childhood socio-economic status: the role of anchoring and household formation in South Africa," Working Papers 18/2014, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics, revised 2014.
    9. Katharine Hall & Dorrit Posel, 2018. "Fragmenting the family? The complexity of household migration strategies in postapartheid South Africa," WIDER Working Paper Series 008, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    10. Eldridge Moses & Derek Yu, 2009. "Migration from the Northern Cape," SALDRU Working Papers 32, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
    11. Daniela Casale & Dorrit Posel, 2010. "The Male Marital Earnings Premium in the Context of Bride Wealth Payments: Evidence from South Africa," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58(2), pages 211-230, January.
    12. Jonathan Crush & Brian Williams & Eleanor Gouws & Mark Lurie, 2005. "Migration and HIV/AIDS in South Africa," Development Southern Africa, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 22(3), pages 293-318.

    More about this item


    South Africa: temporary labour migration;

    JEL classification:

    • A1 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics


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