The Spatial Pattern of International Labour Flows from and to Pakistan: A Preliminary Analysis

Mir Anjum Altaf, Obaidullah -


Since the mid-1970s Pakistan has witnessed very high
magnitudes of labour outand in-migration. Most of the earlier studies on
the subject either concentrated on the aggregate macro-economic impact
of this migration on the national economy or have been in the nature of
case studies of specific' groups of migrants'. In these studies, the
analysis of geographical distribution of the labour force has been
missing. Given the fact that both out- and return-migrants may have
location-specific effects which might lead to uneven economic and social
development in the country and as such policies would have to respond in
concrete locational terms. such an omission is critical. This paper
attempts to identify the international labour flows of Pakistanis
focussing on their geographical distribution. Based on a survey
conducted by the Overseas Pakistanis Foundiition and the Population
Census of 1981 the study suggests that less developed districts are
characterised by low out-migration and high return-migration. In
addition, structural characteristics (e.g .• land tenure) may be
important in explaining low mobility from some underdeveloped districts.
e.g., those of Sindh and lower Punjab. On the basis of the information
presented. the paper suggests a nurnber of avenues for future research:
(i) to relate the indices of out- and return-migration to disaggregated
characteristics of the regional socio-economic structure; (ii) to
compare the pattern of international out-migration with the pattern of
internal out-migrant; (iii) to verify whether the process of internal
relocation is of significant magnitude a trace analysis of return
migrants to the less developed districts could be attempted; and (iv) to
determine the socio-economic and political implications of the patterns
of out- and return-migration. as the differential patterns are likely to
have significant implications for future development.

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