Rural-Urban Migration in Bolivia: Advantages and Disadvantages
Author(s): L. E. Andersen
This paper discusses the advantages and disadvantages of rural-urban migration in Bolivia. The article shows that Bolivia's geography, its history and its distinct ethnic populations make rural-urban migration a much smaller problem in Bolivia than in many other Latin American countries. In terms of the costs of rural-urban migration, the paper suggests that the crime rate will not necessarily rise with increased urbanisation and that urban air pollution problems in Bolivia will be limited to the most congested avenues in major cities with no significant effect on public health. Moreover, despite criticism that rural-urban migration forces migrants to give up ‘good features' of their traditional culture and adopt ‘bad features' of city life, the paper argues that migration leads to positive change that would not be possible in a static rural society, for example the rate of teenage pregnancy is substantially higher in rural areas than in urban areas as teenage pregnancy tends to be more socially accepted in rural areas. Looking at the reasons for migration from rural regions, three main types of migrants are identified based on the 1999 MECOVI survey: (1) job-seeking rural-urban migrants, (2) education-seeking rural-urban migrants and (3) migrants moving for family reasons who constitute 50.1 percent of all rural-urban migrants. Within the last category 58.7 percent of families migrate in order to secure better opportunities for their children. The paper concludes that in this instance rural-urban migration is particularly beneficial as children easily adjust to the new life style and make the most of better education opportunities.