The interaction between informal land markets and ruralurban migration

The interaction between informal land markets and ruralurban migration

If accessing urban land through informal markets is one feature that characterises being poor in South Africa’s cities, another is migration. However, very little is known about how informal land markets influence migration patterns and how migration patterns shape informal land markets.

Utilising data from two informal settlements in Durban, the paper introduces the following findings:

  • it could be suggested that most migrants remain strongly tied to their households of origin
  • yet, retaining membership in the sending household does not have to mean that migration is temporary and that migrants will return to this household at some point in the future
  • cohabitation rates among migrants living in the two informal settlements are considerably higher than marital rates
  • higher costs of living a more commodified life in urban areas, and access to housing, may be important reasons why individuals rather than families migrate

As a result, there are two conclusions:

  • since many people in the two settlements see themselves as being members of more than one household, governance and development of rural-urban interactions in the region should work with a view of fractured and fragmented households
  • some migrants are less likely to anticipate return migration; a more plausible estimate of temporary labour migration could be derived by measuring the number of households which report migrant workers who visit and remit income to the household of origin
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