Emptying Villages. Outmigration in Rural Bolivia and Those Who Stay Behind
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Migration has risen to the top of the policy agenda, and is praised for its development potential. However, migration benefits are often assessed on the basis of the impact it has on migrant households that practice international migration. This thesis presents the results of research carried out on the impact of migration in two small rural sending communities, which are characterized by massive outmigration, in Bolivia. In these communities, outmigration leads to skewed demographic composition and depopulation, a drop in productivity and a lack of labor and has severe social consequences, such as family disintegration and a lack of social dynamism. At the same time, remittances are limited and are not invested in the community. The article argues that while migration can significantly contribute to the economic development and improved standards of living of migrant households, the negative consequences of migration prevent the high development potential of migration for the sending communities from being fully realized. Furthermore, most research focuses on migrants, while those who stay behind are seen as non migants. This thesis studies outmigration from the perspective of those who stay, who turn out to be a heterogeneous group of non migrants, ex migrants, return migrants and circular migrants.