Migration as a Driver of Changing Household Structures: Implications for Local Livelihoods and Adaptation
Chandni Singh | 2019
Rapid environmental change, increasing climate variability, land fragmentation, and underlying institutional lacunae have shaped rural livelihoods in India. Rural-urban migration has been a significant livelihood strategy to manage risks, meet aspirations, and move out of increasingly unprofitable agriculture. The paper argues that this movement of people is changing households, and the metrics to assess these transitions, often through categories of male- and female-headed households, fall short in understanding the experiences and outcomes of migration. Using a household survey (n = 825) and life history interviews (n = 16) to study rural-urban migration in South India, the paper demonstrates that shifting household configurations due to migration and commuting have implications for the risk management strategies people undertake. This calls for an expanded understanding of the ‘household’, which captures the realities of multi-local households, and consequently, for an expanded conceptualisation of ‘local adaptation’. Such an understanding emphasises broader factors that shape household risk management behaviour and has implications for improving the effectiveness of climate change adaptation interventions.