Back to search

New Article: Food insecurity as a determinant of international migration: evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa

In this paper, the authors examined how food insecurity can affect international migration aspirations and subsequent actions taken in preparation to move internationally from Sub-Saharan Africa. Drawing on a conceptual framework of the determinants of migration, they developed a three-stage regression model and tested it using data from the 2014 Gallup World Poll.

The results indicate that multiple determinants play different roles in the migration decision process, which is characterized by aspirations, planning and final decision to migrate. Specifically, food insecurity is an important determinant of both the desire and the decision to migrate: food insecurity raises the probability of desiring to migrate internationally, with the probability of the desire increasing along with the severity of food insecurity.

However, the probability of actually deciding to migrate internationally decreased as food insecurity worsened. These findings are in line with migration literature stating that the very poor, despite wishing to migrate, face tremendous constraints in transforming this desire into concrete decisions. The results suggest that removing or reducing constraints to migration will benefit the poorest/most food insecure and highlight the need for an increased and effective coordination between food security and international migration policy agendas.

In this paper, the authors focused on studying the role of food insecurity in the decision processes of peoples in Sub-Sahran Africa to undertake international migration, a topic that is still understudied in the migration literature, which focuses much more on other determinants, such as household income, education, and social networks.

This study contributes in various ways to the migration debate. Using a three-stage conceptual framework that examined individual migration desire, planning and decision, we provide evidence that that the relationship between food insecurity and migration is strong and significant. However, the nature of this relationship depends upon the severity of food insecurity, which reflect the overall economic wellbeing of households and individuals, and on the stage of the migration decision process.

The authors demonstrate that the relationship between food insecurity and migration desire was positive: food insecurity increased migration desire, and to a greater extent as the severity of food insecurity increased.

One policy message that can be drawn from the results is that removing or reducing constraints to migration will benefit the poorest/most food insecure segments of any society, by enabling migration. Bilateral and multi-lateral agreements on trade and economic cooperation, including development aid, should recognize this strong relationship between food insecurity and international migration. They can serve as first platforms to incorporate organized migration schemes across countries that are to the benefits of both potential migrants from lower income countries and the more developed ones, usually in need of agricultural labor even if only seasonally. The full text open access article "Food insecurity as a determinant of international migration: evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa" you can find here 

Food Security June 2019, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 515–530

Further reading from the latest volume