The internal migrants now need to have the same policy attention as international migrants, said Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman, former adviser to the caretaker government, Wednesday.
Before the pandemic expenditure growth was very strong across all household groups. The share of food in the expenditure bundle was decreasing, while the share of non-food items was increasing rapidly. These trends reversed during the pandemic, Dr C Rashaad Shabab, senior lecturer at the Department of Economics, the University of Sussex Business School, said.
However, internal migrant households were best able to protect expenditure from adverse shocks. The expenditure of non-migrant households was the worst affected by adverse shocks during this period, he added.
By 2020, the poverty rate among internal migrant households is very similar to non-migrant households. Thus migration has reduced inequality through social mobility.
"Migration, especially internal migration, appears to enable households to protect expenditure against shortfalls and to prevent them from falling into poverty. It enhances social mobility and so is an important tool to reduce inequalities," Rashaad said.
"Compared to 2017, the volume of remittance fell by 8 percent per household in nominal terms in 2020. When 5 percent inflation per year is added then the reduction in remittance in real terms is at 23 percent," said Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit Chairperson Professor Tasneem Siddiqui.
The amount of remittances sent by female migrants increased by 16 percent in nominal terms, in real terms it reduced by 1.6 percent.
Female internal and international migrants come from more disadvantaged backgrounds. They are more likely to be widowed and divorced and more likely to have lower levels of education, said Professor Tasneem.
The experts were addressing the workshop "Impact of Migration on Transformation to Sustainability: Poverty and Development in Bangladesh" at a Dhaka hotel Wednesday.
RMMRU presented the findings of a long-running panel survey of over 6,000 households, spanning 20 districts of Bangladesh, at the event.
Md Shahidul Haque, former foreign secretary, commended the research for bringing internal migration so strongly to the policy arena for the first time.
The research compared the economic sustainability of internal migrant, international migrant and non-migrant households. It found that among these groups internal migrant households are best able to protect expenditure against adverse climate and health shocks.