Kerala-Gulf connections weakening

Kerala-Gulf connections weakening

The number of emigrants from Kerala was 21.2 lakh in 2018, about 1.5 lakh lower than the immigrant number in 2016. File photo

Even as the rate of emigration from Kerala to aboard, especially the Gulf countries, has been coming down over the years, the remittance to Kerala still shows an increasing trend.

A recent study by the Centre for Development Studies (CDS), a Kerala government institution based here, said that various factors influence this trend including an increase of wages of the Indian diaspora to the weakening of the Indian Rupee.

The number of emigrants from Kerala was 21.2 lakh in 2018, about 1.5 lakh lower than the immigrant number in 2016.

The rate of decline over these years was also increasing— from 5.7% in 2016 to 7.1% in 2018.

However, the remittance by non-resident Keralites (NRK) has increased from Rs 71,142 crore in 2013 to Rs 85,092 crore in 2018— a spike of around 20%.

This rate has been fluctuating for the past several years— it had even gone up to 134% in 2008 — but has never seen a negative trend.

The government of Kerala depends on the migration studies by CDS for policy making and this one is the eight in the series.

Irudaya Rajan, CDS professor who conducted the study along with CDS honorary fellow and former World Bank senior demographer K C Zachariah, told DH that though the number of emigrants from Kerala was increasing, a good number of emigrants from Kerala were staying there for decades and were now earning higher wages owing to their experience.

After acquiring skill and experience from Gulf countries, many are even moving to other destinations that offer higher remuneration, he said and added that owing to the weakening value of Indian rupees the emigrants also tend to remit a maximum amount to Kerala.

Remittance to Kerala has a considerable impact on the overall development of a Kerala household directly or indirectly.

This is also reflected in the consumption pattern of Keralites.

The state has a total population of around 3.5 crore. Hence a total remittances of Rs 85,092 crore means, on an average, per-capita remittance is around Rs 24,000, the study says.

Another interesting fact noticed by the study is that there was a reduction in real estate investment by NRKs owing to the reduction in land value over the last couple of years.

Instead, the NRKs are now spending more on buying cars, starting business, educating children and even paying dowry.

While the spending aspects such as buying a car and starting a business increased by about four times during the 2013-18 period, the spending on buying a land came down by half during the same period, the study points out.

It also points out that the number of emigrants returning to Kerala was also increasing, but on a gradual scale.

If it was 12.52 lakh in 2013, it increased to 12.94 lakh in 2018.

Thirty-nine per cent of emigrants from Kerala are secondary to higher secondary educated and 29% hold degree and above qualifications, the study said.

Some other key findings:

1) 89% of emigrants from Kerala are in Gulf countries

2) 42% of emigrants from Kerala are from the Muslim community

3) Highest remittance being received by North Kerala's Malappuram district.

4) 18% of households in Kerala have at least one emigrant.

5) Job loss major reason for emigrants returning to Kerala.