Thiruvananthapuram: The Gulf countries still remain the most sought after place for job seekers from Kerala even as the per centage of people migrating to other destinations like the US, Europe and Africa has increased in recent years, according to the State Economic Review 2005.
The review, prepared by the State Planning Board, citing a recent study by the Centre for Development Studies (CDS), Thiruvananthapuram, stated that the number of emigrants from Kerala went up by 35 per cent in the past five years from 13.6 lakh in 1999 to 18.4 lakh in 2004.
The CDS shows that migration to the Gulf countries, which was 95 per cent of the total migration, went down to 90 per cent and the migration to the US, European Countries and Africa went up to 10 per cent in 2004. The study also revealed that the United Arab Emirates had replaced Saudi Arabia as the most preferred destination.
The study also pointed out that the foreign remittances by the emigrants went up by 35 per cent in five years from Rs 13,652 crore in 1999 to Rs 18,465 crore in 2004.
The Malappuram district with 271,787 persons, leads the number of Emigrants from the state. However, its share had registered a fall during the last five years. Thrissur was in the second place with 178,867 emigrants and Palakkad in the third position with 177,876.
Noting that there was a spurt in female migration, the study said, women accounted for 16.85 per cent of the emigrants in 2004, as against only about nine per cent in 1999. Of the emigrants, 43.7 per cent were Muslims, 31.2 per cent Hindus and 25.1 per cent Christians.
While the rate of growth in migration among Christians was 53.9 per cent, among Muslims it was only 17.3 per cent, the study added. Even as the report indicated a surge in emigrant population, the report also recorded the return of a sizeable number of people to the state.
The number of emigrants, who have returned from the Gulf countries went up from 739,245 in 1999 to 893,942 in 2004. Saudi Arabia accounted for the largest number of ”returnees,” followed by the UAE. he study said the average age of the emigrants, who have returned home was 49 years.
The study further revealed that as many as 31.2 per cent of the returnees were ”self-employed in non-agriculture,” 0.5 per cent in ”political and social activities” and a whopping 46.4 per cent in ”other activities”. Apart from migrating to other countries, the flow of migrant workers to the other states had also shown an increase, the study said and added that most of the workers were skilled labourers.