New Publication on Migrant Health in South India

Our new publication on the determinants of internal migrant health in South India was recently published in BMC International Health and Human Rights. A link to the open acess paper can be found here.

Dodd, W., Humphries, S., Patel, K., Majowicz, S., Little, M., & Dewey, C. (2017). Determinants of internal migrant health and the healthy migrant effect in South India: a mixed methods studyBMC International Health and Human Rights, 17(23). 


Background: Internal labour migration is an important and necessary livelihood strategy for millions of individuals and households in India. However, the precarious position of migrant workers within Indian society may have consequences for the health of these individuals. Previous research on the connections between health and labour mobility within India has primarily focused on the negative health outcomes associated with this practice. Thus, there is a need to better identify the determinants of internal migrant health and how these determinants shape migrant health outcomes.

Methods: An exploratory mixed methods study was conducted in 26 villages in the Krishnagiri district of Tamil Nadu. Sixty-six semi-structured interviews were completed using snowball sampling, followed by 300 household surveys using multi-stage random sampling. For qualitative data, an analysis of themes and content was completed. For quantitative data, information on current participation in internal labour migration, in addition to self-reported morbidity and determinants of internal migrant health, was collected. Morbidity categories were compared between migrant and non-migrant adults (age 14–65 years) using a Fisher’s exact test.

Results: Of the 300 households surveyed, 137 households (45.7%) had at least one current migrant member, with 205 migrant and 1012 non-migrant adults (age 14–65 years) included in this study. The health profile of migrant and non-migrants was similar in this setting, with 53 migrants (25.9%) currently suffering from a health problem compared to 273 non-migrants (27.0%). Migrant households identified both occupational and livelihood factors that contributed to changes in the health of their migrant members. These determinants of internal migrant health were corroborated and further expanded on through the semi-structured interviews.

Conclusions: Internal labour migration in and of itself is not a determinant of health, as participation in labour mobility can contribute to an improvement in health, a decline in health, or no change in health among migrant workers. Targeted public health interventions should focus on addressing the determinants of internal migrant health to enhance the contributions these individuals can make to their households and villages of origin.