Migration and Development in Vietnam: A Research and Advocacy Project on Socio-Economic Impact of Rural-Urban Migration at Sending and Receiving Areas


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Duration of project:   2007-2010

In Vietnam, it has long been realized that a major obstacle to the formulation of any right-based migration policy is the government’s antagonistic view of migrants as a heavy burden on public service and as factors of social destabilization (for example, migrants are considered to be easily engaged in “social evils”, namely drug use, sex work, and other criminal activities).  At the same time, observable constructive contributions of migration to urban places are almost totally neglected.  In fact, no study has ever been done on this topic.  Even for the source areas, very limited information is available on the impact of migrants on the left-behind families and communities.  Most of the academic knowledge on migration are limited to migration determinants and migrants’ socio-economic characteristics.

As a response to the knowledge gap, this project focuses on socio-economic impact of rural-urban migrants on both home and host communities.  The overall objective of the research project is twofold: (i) to provide first-time knowledge on socio-economic impact of rural-urban migration on both sending and receiving areas through a national migration survey; and (ii) to use research findings as empirical base for follow-up policy advocacy.

The project specific objectives are:

  1. Identify contributions of migrants to economies of the receiving areas through labor market formation and participation as well as economic output generation.
  2. Demystify the assumptions of “migrants equal social service burden” and “migrants mean social evils” in the urban place of destination.
  3. Examine how migrants impact sending communities.
  4.  Policy advocacy

The importance of this research is tremendous as it will help to change the conventional discourse on migration away from negativity towards relative positivity, that migrants are in fact productive actors and contributors to development process, while at the same time being mindful of any downside the flows create to both areas and to migrants themselves.