In 2012, according to World Bank data, some 200 million international migrants were not living in the country where they were born. In many countries, internal migration is huge too. In China alone, 230 million people are estimated to be living away from home. Most of them have moved from rural areas to cities in search of work. They typically keep property in their village, however, and family members stay behind too. Children for instance, are often left with grandparents, so they can continue going to school.
Migration causes emotional stress, but there are also serious social-security issues. In China, for example, the public system for health care and social services is tied to one’s registered residence. Anybody who works and lives elsewhere is excluded.
Cindy Fan of the University of California/Los Angeles says that Chinese people associate rural areas with poverty and urban areas with upward mobility. Many migrants, she adds, hope to make enough money in the city to build a big house in the village and send their children to better schools. Government statistics support her view, indicating that at most 40 % of China’s internal migrants want to stay for good in the places they moved to in search of a livelihood.
15 years in Johannesburg (…)>>
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