Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Research on Internal Migration in Thailand: The State of Knowledge

by Aphichat Chamratrithirong

An interest in, and a concern about, internal migration was first evident in the academic community and among policy makers over thirty years ago. This concern was shown in several in-depth studies on “internal migration” dating back to at least early 1970s. It is important to note that initial attention of both national and international demographers and social scientists centered on the “negative” impact of migration. Attention to shifts in population distribution began in the 1960s when worldwide alarms about the population explosion that had begun in the 1950s were spread among the national and the international agencies. The rapid growth of population especially in the rural areas was seen as a factor in the fast changing population distribution that resulted in a large movement of people from rural places to urban areas that place over a short period of time. Although this was not confined to Thailand, it did spark a body of research on internal migration in Thailand by national and international scholars that is perhaps unparalleled in the developing world.
Seeing the threat of massive movement of people from the over-populated and poor rural areas to the better-off urban areas, researchers responded with a series of studies that focused on understanding population movements. Level, trends and demographic and socioeconomic patterns of demographic movement were described and analyzed. Comprehensive analysis of the censuses of 1947, 1960 and 1970 were first carried out and led by the National Statistical Office, East-West Center and Sidney Goldstein1. They were compared to increasing evidence of poor migrants especially from the Northeast of Thailand, in the city that came from small focused studies2. Although earlier studies of migration included both rural and urban places as both origin and destination of moves, the migration stream that received the most attention, and became of greatest interest, was movement to the primate city of Bangkok. Determinants and consequences of migration, especially to major urban areas and to Greater Bangkok become the focus of inquiry in the 1970s.

Highway to Bangkok, photo by Storm Crypt
Sathorn Road, Bangkok, Thailand, photo by Timo Kozlowski

more aout Thailand:

Urbanization and Urbanism in Thailand

Urban Ecology in Bangkok, Thailand: Community Participation, Urban Agriculture and Forestry


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