Volume 37 - Article 3 | Pages 25–52  

How does unrest affect migration? Evidence from the three southernmost provinces of Thailand

By Aree Jampaklay, Kathleen Ford, Aphichat Chamratrithirong


Background: In the southernmost provinces of Thailand, despite the long-term unrest concurrent with migration, very limited research tackles the relationship between these two phenomena.

Objective: This analysis examines whether migration in the three southernmost provinces is associated with the ongoing unrest.

Methods: We use a sample of 1,009 households from a household probability survey conducted in the three southernmost provinces in 2014. The analysis uses two measures of migration: all migration and destination-specific migration. The unrest is measured as 1) whether a violent incident occurred in the village in the most recent year and 2) the perceived effect of the unrest on the overall life of the household.

Results: Households in villages where a violent incidence occurred in the past year and households that reported that the unrest affected overall life a lot are more likely to have a migrant. These effects are direct, net of other household and social network characteristics. The unrest is related to increased migration both within Thailand and to Malaysia. This result is stronger for migration to Malaysia compared to migration within Thailand. The destination of migrants is related to education.

Conclusions: Unrest reaches certain levels and can outweigh the costs of migration, leading to an acceleration of migration. Findings address education as a potential counfounding variable of migration.

Contribution: This is the first analysis in Thailand that addresses the relationship between the unrest and migration. We add to very few studies that examine differences in migrant destination and that use both objective and subjective measures of the unrest.

Author's Affiliation

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