The Spatial Pattern of International Labour Flows from and toPakistan: A Preliminary Analysis

Publication Year : 1992

Since the mid-1970s Pakistan has witnessed very highmagnitudes of labour outand in-migration. Most of the earlier studies onthe subject either concentrated on the aggregate macro-economic impactof this migration on the national economy or have been in the nature ofcase studies of specific’ groups of migrants’. In these studies, theanalysis of geographical distribution of the labour force has beenmissing. Given the fact that both out- and return-migrants may havelocation-specific effects which might lead to uneven economic and socialdevelopment in the country and as such policies would have to respond inconcrete locational terms. such an omission is critical. This paperattempts to identify the international labour flows of Pakistanisfocussing on their geographical distribution. Based on a surveyconducted by the Overseas Pakistanis Foundiition and the PopulationCensus of 1981 the study suggests that less developed districts arecharacterised by low out-migration and high return-migration. Inaddition, structural characteristics (e.g .• land tenure) may beimportant in explaining low mobility from some underdeveloped districts.e.g., those of Sindh and lower Punjab. On the basis of the informationpresented. the paper suggests a nurnber of avenues for future research:(i) to relate the indices of out- and return-migration to disaggregatedcharacteristics of the regional socio-economic structure; (ii) tocompare the pattern of international out-migration with the pattern ofinternal out-migrant; (iii) to verify whether the process of internalrelocation is of significant magnitude a trace analysis of returnmigrants to the less developed districts could be attempted; and (iv) todetermine the socio-economic and political implications of the patternsof out- and return-migration. as the differential patterns are likely tohave significant implications for future development.

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