Who prefers to stay? voluntary immobility among youth in Ethiopia, India, and Vietnam

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Far fewer people migrate than global disparities in wealth and well-being would lead us to predict, yet we know relatively little about why those who presumably have much to gain from migration prefer to stay in place. This article examines the motivations of young people who express the preference to stay put, and asks what individual and household characteristics are associated with voluntary immobility. Using survey data collected in Ethiopia, India, and Vietnam for the Young Lives Project, we find that the majority of young people surveyed envision a future within their home country, and between 32 per cent (Ethiopia) and 60 per cent (Vietnam) prefer to stay in their current location. Most youth prefer to stay for family-related reasons. Living in an urban area and engagement in farm work are associated with greater staying aspirations, but only for youth from the most resource-poor or the wealthiest households. Higher levels of schooling, wealth, feelings of self-efficacy and paid employment are consistently associated with diminished desires to stay, with stronger effects for youth from rural settings, resource-poor households, and women. Our results reveal the social patterning of staying aspirations and have important implications for development interventions that seek to enhance aspirations and capabilities of individuals to stay in place.





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Schewel, K, and S Fransen (2022). Who prefers to stay? voluntary immobility among youth in Ethiopia, India, and Vietnam. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. 10.1080/1369183X.2022.2092085 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/25672.

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Kerilyn Daniel Schewel

Lecturing Fellow in the Sanford School of Public Policy

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