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Rural livelihoods and access to natural capital: Differences between migrants and non-migrants in Madagascar
Authors: Raphael J. Nawrotzki, Lori M. Hunter, and Thomas W. Dickinson
Source: Demographic Research, 26(24): 661-700; DOI: 10.4054/DemRes.2012.26.24
Topic(s): Environment and natural resources
Country: Africa
Published: JUN 2012
Abstract: BACKGROUND Although natural resources play a central role in rural livelihoods across the globe, little research has explored the relationship between migration and natural capital use, particularly in combination with other livelihood capitals (i.e., human, social, financial, and physical). OBJECTIVE Grounded in the rural livelihood framework, this paper explores the association between the livelihood capital availability, especially natural capital, for migrants and non-migrants in rural Madagascar. METHODS Data from the 2008/2009 Demographic and Health Survey is used in combination with satellite imagery of vegetation coverage (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index, NDVI) to proxy natural resources. Hierarchical multilevel models allow for inclusion of cross-level interactions between migrant status and proximate natural resources as determinants of the status of livelihood assets. RESULTS Three key findings emerge. First, higher levels of proximate natural resources are associated with greater financial, human, and social capital for both migrants and nonmigrants. Second, migrants have, on average, greater financial, physical, human, and social capital than non-migrants, and urban-to-rural migrants do exceptionally well in all capital asset categories. Third, migrants residing in areas with higher levels of natural capital tend to have significantly higher levels of human capital (education). CONCLUSION Although we cannot examine livelihood strategies per se, the results suggest variation in livelihood potential among migrants and non-migrants in rural Madagascar, with migrants tending to have greater capital assets. In addition, access to natural resources is a central livelihood strategy.