25 October 2011

Why so little internal migration in India?

The potential gains are large, but you also risk losing your social network, which is critical when there are inadequate government social safety nets and inadequate private insurance markets (Kaivan Munshi and Mark Rosenzweig).

So - development as a process of transforming small, inefficient, but personal networks of connections to much broader nation-wide government- and market-coordinated networks - less personal (I haven't necessarily met the people helping me out when I'm in need, or those I might be helping out) - but more efficient due to the larger scale and the greater allowance for mobility. Development as the atomisation and individualisation of society. Something to be happy about? Similar to how folks moan about Facebook destroying strong ties and replacing them with abundant weak ties, as they continue to dive headfirst into the internet.


Matt said...

Er, I don't think Munshi and Rosenzweig are making a normative statement here, just describing behaviour, no? Is anyone moaning here? Yes, i think we all realize that personal networks can be inefficient, but in the short term the impersonal ones tend to be subject to to greater coordination failure. "Would you please move away from your inefficient family/ethnic based network to this slum were you will make more money, but there are no social services, everyone is different than you, and there's a 1% chance you'll end up in complete deprivation" might not appeal to everyone. Instead of trying to argue that this is a dumb argument, maybe we should be thinking of ways to improve the impersonal `government and market-coordinated networks', because evidently Tibout is telling us they aren't working very well in India. 

Lee Crawfurd said...

Oh yeah didn't make that very clear, I'm not attributing any of those normative ramblings to them, just thinking through some of the implications, which are maybe common concerns about rapid development and social change. 

Matt said...

Gotcha - also we should be wary that these results aren't masking some other barrier to migration. People often use examples of immigrants returning home after being unsuccessful in their adopted country as examples that the demand for migration isn't really that high, when in fact we know that there are quite large physical barriers keeping most people at bay. 

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