Country Listing

Nepal Table of Contents


Lifetime Regional Migration

Until the mid-1950s, the volume of permanent migration within the country was very small. Since then, however, there has been increased permanent internal migration, mainly because of population pressures, paucity of land resources in the hills, and the implementation of land resettlement programs in the Tarai Region. This form of migration was identified in the 1981 census as lifetime internal migration.

The total volume of lifetime internal migration in 1981 was close to 1,272,300 persons, a figure that represented 8.5 percent of the total population. The vast majority of lifetime internal migrants originated in the Hill and Mountain regions and moved to the Tarai Region in search of land in a movement that can be called frontier migration (see table 4, Appendix). These findings confirmed that the north-south (highland-lowland) flows of migration have made a substantial contribution--both directly and indirectly--to the rapid population growth of the Tarai Region.

One of the major variables responsible for this trend was the Hill residents' quest for land. About half of the male Hill migrants to the Tarai mentioned "agriculture" as their reason for migrating (see table 5, Appendix). The "not stated and others" category also constituted a high percentage, probably because most family members who moved with their parents or household heads had no specific reason for their migration.

A high score for trade and commerce among the mountain migrants might reflect the fact that they historically were deeply engaged in interregional as well as cross-border trade with Tibet as their principal economic activity. Because their traditional trade and commercial relations with Tibet had been largely cut off because of political changes after 1950, they might have moved to the Tarai, where such opportunities were expanding, particularly in urban areas.

The pattern for female migrants was generally consistent with the pattern for male migrants. The exception was female migrants for whom marriage as a reason for geographical mobility ranked quite high. This pattern generally reflected the commonly observed reality that female mobility in Nepal was largely tied to family mobility (that is, husbands or parents). Although individual (unmarried) female migration seemed to be gradually on the rise, it still was quite limited.

Data as of September 1991