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The Politics of South-South Migration

An online talk by:
Dr. Nikhar Gaikwad
Assistant Professor
Columbia University
Department of Political Science

Thursday, March 4, 2021
12:30 - 2:00 p.m. (PST)

[ Abstract ]
In this study co-led by Kolby Hanson (US Naval War College) and Aliz Toth (Stanford University), Nikhar Gaikwad discusses why recent decades have witnessed a sharp increase in cross-border labor migration in the Global South. Together, they conducted a field experiment on migration from Northeast India to the Persian Gulf to test how access to overseas employment opportunities impact political and economic outcomes among migrants and sending communities. Candidates who were interested in pursuing jobs abroad were randomly selected for a hospitality-sector employment training and recruitment program. After completing the program, but prior to migrating abroad, selected individuals became more confident in their economic prospects and made enhanced economic investments in their futures. Strengthened economic forecasts altered policy preferences, with subjects growing less supportive of state-led taxation and redistribution and more committed to principles of individual economic autonomy. The prospect of upward mobility associated with international employment opportunities also shifted individuals’ willingness to mobilize politically to achieve policy change. Gaikwad concludes by presenting his pre-analysis plan to compare outcomes across treatment and control individuals and household members a year after migration. This research design helps to overcome selection concerns in the study of mobility, isolate how overseas employment opportunities alter individuals’ political attitudes and behaviors, and offer the first experimental evidence on the consequences of migration in the Global South.