Comparing Internal Migration in the Countries of Asia: Patterns and Progress


Elin Charles-Edwards, Martin Bell, and Aude Bernard

Abstract: The countries of Asia have undergone an epoch of rapid demographic change. While considerable effort has been exerted in the study of fertility and mortality, studies of internal migration are comparatively few, despite its major role in redistributing populations within countries. This paper reports on a cross-country study of internal migration in Asia, drawing on a common quantitative framework developed under the Project on Comparing Internal Migration around the Globe. The results reveal that internal migrations, while on average lower than in other parts of the world, are highly variable across countries. This is connected to key indicators of development but also to individual countries’ progression through the urban transition. Migration intensities in Asia peak at an earlier age and are more concentrated than in other parts of the world. Analysis of spatial impacts highlights the contribution of migration to urbanization throughout Asia, but also the enduring impacts of conflict, forced displacements, and government policies on national migration systems.

Keywords: Internal migration, age profile, spatial impact, urban transition, Asia.