The impact of water access on short‐term migration in rural India

E. D. Zaveri, D. H. Wrenn, and K. Fisher‐Vanden

Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics (April 2020)

DOI: 10.1111/1467-8489.12364


Migration is an important risk-reduction strategy for households in developing countries. In this paper, we examine the impact of rainfall variability and irrigation availability on short-term migration decisions in India. Our results show that both rainfall shocks and the availability of irrigation impact the decisions of households to dispatch migrants. For irrigation, we find that migration responds to costs and that deep fossil-water wells, which provide a constant source of water, eliminate any benefit of short-term migration. This suggests that regions with access to more secure and stable sources of water are less likely to rely on migration as an income-smoothing mechanism, at least in the short run. Whether this holds in the long run will depend on the continued stability and availability of irrigation water.

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