Migration in India: Causes and Aftermaths


Migration is defined as the process of movement from one place to another in search of better opportunities. These opportunities are broad in number. The method of migration is also inclusive of the existing liveability scenario of an individual. There are other factors like a better job, living standards, education, and health facilities. In India, migration has a significant role that directly impacts our cities. Every day many people, either from rural areas or from small towns to metro cities, move in search of better living opportunities. India has a population of over 1210.2 million, out of which 453.6 million are migrants. (The Census of India, 2011) With such a vast number of migrants, the cities mostly face more noticeable problems. This issue indirectly also affects the rural areas.


Some of the major causes of migration in India are:


One of the most frequent factors for migration is education. Mostly the students from various parts of the country shift to avail themselves better education opportunities. With the presence of newer educational facilities in larger cities, people migrate to avail the facilities. (Dhristi, 2019) States like Kerala, Bhopal, Delhi, Mumbai, Rajasthan provide accommodation to larger sections of students. There are instances of migration of both men and women in search of better educational facilities. For example- the coaching institutes of Kota Rajasthan attract a lot of students from various states. This type of migration helps in generating higher GDP contributing to the economy.

Job Opportunities

The survival of an individual is directly dependent upon their regular jobs. This type of migration is due to the lack of employment opportunities at their native locations. Without any assurance or security of any work, they had to move out from their native spaces. People usually from rural areas get attracted by the job opportunities in the urban areas. It results in mass migration to urban spaces. After a certain point, the urban space reaches its saturation point. It then leads to many urban-related issues. These issues are due to the constraints in the availability of land, house, and other amenities.

The shortage of infrastructural amenities leads to excessive congestion in the cities. The excessive accumulation of population creates pressure on the infrastructural services in the urban space.  With the shortage of living areas, people start to live in slums and squatters. Such situations not only lead to further degradation of human habitations. The city area faces a lot of problems due to excessive migration. But at times, these are the people who work in the informal sector. These people thereby help in generating the economy (Tumbe, 2019).

Another part of the issue is that rural people migrate and leave their agricultural lands in their native locations. It results in a lack of food security in the country. Such issues further directly impact the rural productivity of the nation.


At times, people who hail from small towns and cities do not get the required health services. Thus, in such cases, people migrate to big metro cities where they find satisfactory health services. Health forms a vital part of survival. There are several instances where people from backward regions have to move to very long distances to avail adequate medical facilities. In case of emergency, such situations are difficult to manage. Many times, the patients die while traveling to distant medical services.


Poverty is one of the reasons that causes significant hindrances to the country. Most of the people who fall under the line of poverty come from rural areas. These individuals come from a poor background having no financial stability. They could not afford minimum food or other security for their sustenance. As per the reports of the world bank, 1 in 5 people in India is poor(World Bank, 2020). These people do not have access to any social security, support, etc. Often there are also instances of mass migration in the cases for having a better livelihood opportunity. One of the main reasons that create unemployment and poverty is the lack of employment support.

Security issues

Security issues vary from one place to another. There can be instances of political instability, warfare, etc. Situations like this create a sense of instability in the places leading to loss of employment, social insecurity, etc. People start to feel alienated in such locations. There are also instances of violence in such areas, which creates chaos, and usually, people migrate to other places where they can find peace and solace.


It is one of the most common reasons for migration. In such cases, maximum women migrate after marriages with their partners. Most rural areas undergo migration due to this reason. Various reports suggest that female migration is most in the case of Intra-state migration. Females from villages after their marriages shift to their partners working city for livelihood opportunities.

Other environmental factors

Environment plays a significant role in the overall shifting pattern of the migrants. Places struck with frequent multiple disasters see the maximum displacement. For example: In the case of coastal areas where often cyclones and floods cause destruction.  It causes severe issues to the nearby residents. Thus, to avoid the situation, they often abandon the native place and migrates to other locations. Migration also happens in the case of agriculture-related issues. Farmers who are involved in the shift-cultivation approach work in a particular land. After the cultivation period, the farmers shift to newer locations. This type of migration also has an impact on the agricultural land.

The demand and supply of labor

The movement of people in search of better economic opportunities from their native locations to cities directly impacts the economy. People from rural backgrounds work as laborers in multiple factories. Coming from a place with no employment opportunities, they usually work as daily wage laborers in urban factories (Kumar, 2021). They act as cheap labor to the industries. It is evident in the case of the diamond and textile industries of Surat. People from states like Odisha, Bihar, Bengal migrate to work and earn a livelihood in these industries.  Another example is the IT hub of Bangalore, where many people migrate in search of better living opportunities. The improved level of infrastructure, educational and training hubs acts as an essential pull factor in attracting many migrants to the city.


The excessive migration to cities has created multiple urban issues. The list of problems starts from overpopulation to congestion in the cities. The migration helps in the labor supply of the cities, but it also creates extra pressure on the existing amenities. The government authorities have proposed significant policies to limit the migration rates in the cities. This type of provision includes the development of employment opportunities in native locations. So that people will not have to travel or migrate to earn their livelihood. Initiatives like rural entrepreneurship, small-scale household industries, self-help groups will employ people in the rural areas.


  • Dhristi. (2019). Human Migration in India. Dhristi. https://www.drishtiias.com/to-the-points/paper1/human-migration-in-india
  • Kumar, S. (2021). Labour migration in India – one year on and India still does not have a comprehensive policy in place to support the informal migrant labor population. The Times of India. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/voices/labour-migration-in-india-one-year-on-and-india-still-does-not-have-a-comprehensive-policy-in-place-to-support-the-informal-migrant-labor-population/
  • The Census of India. (2011). The Census of india 2011 report pdf. Goi. https://www.google.co.in/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=census+of+India+2011+report&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&gfe_rd=cr&ei=dia4VqrsJceL8QeXuom4Aw#q=census+of+india+2011+report+pdf
  • Tumbe, C. (2019). A million migrations: Journeys in search of jobs. Livemint.Com. https://www.livemint.com/Politics/8WPPsZygqR7Mu6e3Fgy55N/A-million-migrations-Journeys-in-search-of-jobs.html
  • World Bank. (2020). Covid-19 Crisis Through a Migration Lens. Migration and Development Brief, No. 32, April, 1–50. https://www.knomad.org/publication/migration-and-development-brief-32-covid-19-crisis-through-migration-lens

Author Bio: This article is written by Annanya Behera. She is currently pursuing Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning from School of Planning and Architecture, Bhopal, and a member of NOSPLAN- Organization of Students of Planning. Her keen interests are on various topics related to urban and rural development.