Original Research

Recent internal migration and labour market outcomes: Exploring the 2008 and 2010 national income dynamics study (NIDS) panel data in South Africa

Nhlanhla Cyril Mbatha, Joan Roodt
South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences | Vol 17, No 5 | a515 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajems.v17i5.515 | © 2014 Nhlanhla Cyril Mbatha, Joan Roodt | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 January 2013 | Published: 28 November 2014

About the author(s)

Nhlanhla Cyril Mbatha, University of South Africa
Joan Roodt, HSRC

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We began with the premise that South African recent migrants from rural to urban areas experience relatively lower rates of participation in formal labour markets compared to local residents in urban communities, and that these migrants are overrepresented in the informal labour market and in the unemployment sector. This means that rural to urban migrants are less likely than locals to be found in formal employment and more likely to be found in informal employment and among the unemployed. Using perspectives from Development Economics we explore the South African National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS) panel datasets of 2008 and 2010, which only provide a perspective on what has happened between 2008 and 2010. We find that while migrants in general experience positive outcomes in informal labour markets, they also experience positive outcomes in formal markets, which is contrary to expectations. We also find that there are strong links between other indicators of performance in the labour market. Earned incomes are closely associated with migration decisions and educational qualifications (e.g. a matric certificate) for respondents between the ages of 30 and 60 years. The youth (15 to 30 years old) and senior respondents (over the age of 60) are the most disadvantaged in the labour market. The disadvantage is further reflected in lower earned incomes. This is the case even though the youth are most likely to migrate. We conclude that migration is motivated by both push (to seek employment) and pull (existing networks or marriage at destination) factors. For public policy, the emerging patterns – indicative and established – are important for informing strategies aimed at creating employment and developing skills for the unemployed, migrants and especially the youth. Similar policy strategies are embodied in the National Development Plan (NDP), the National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS), etc.


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