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Despite the high level of mobility and subsequent remittances from migrants, a large proportion of Nigerians still live in poverty. The increase in the geographical mobility of labour as a result of poverty, unemployment and unstable economic conditions, among other factors, especially among professionals, has been associated with a brain drain in Nigeria.. The increased participation of women in mobility in the country also brings to the fore the existence of gender-specific mobility experiences and how this has in turn affected their households.

The level of labour mobility, its determinants and how it influences remittance inflows and household poverty. Results reveal that while more males travelled for employment purposes, more females travelled due to marriage arrangements.

More of the migrants that were working after mobility had worked before mobility and had the highest average amount of remittance sent to households. The study shows that labour mobility increases the amount of remittance sent to households. However, the increase was higher among male migrants than female migrants. More than half of the migrants had poor households; meanwhile, labour mobility was found to reduce the extent of poverty.

Policies that improve the welfare of labour and reduce the brain drain, unemployment and closures of enterprises in the country should be put in place. Effective policies and interventions that promote the use of remittances to achieve maximum reductions in poverty should be pursued.




Regional mobility for employment entails the movement of  people who are seeking for job or potential job candidates from one place to another for the main purpose of securing job that will contribute to the changing of their social status which is a common phenomenon in Nigeria Regional mobility or mobility, which is the movement of people over defined space and time, is a phenomenon that has been part of humans from creation. Humans have been on the move in quest of overcoming the earth, and to exploit existing resources and socio-economic opportunities for the wellbeing of humans. In addition, humans have also been forced to relocate from their usual place of residence in the face of environmental shocks, such as, flooding, famine, desertification, earthquakes among others. Furthermore, people can also be forced or compelled („pushed‟) to relocate from one place (origin) to the other  (destination) due to social conflict and warfare. Under the latter circumstance, people migrate in search of „safe heaven‟ where their safety is significantly assured (Adepoju, 2008; Bakewell and De Haas, 2007; Afolayan and Ikwuyatum et al, 2011).

When the mobility process occurs within national boundaries of country, it is referred as internal mobility and when it occurs across national border or boundaries, it is referred to international mobility (Castles, 2012). In essence, mobility can be either voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary, mobility occurs when the decision making is based either on the individual‟s desire or by the household, that is, when members collectively desire to send a family member into the mobility process. In involuntary mobility, people are forced to migrate against their desire and will to destinations far from their area of origin or usual place of residence. Examples of forced or involuntary mobility include: socio-economic instability, slavery, human and child trafficking, environmental shocks. In modern times and in this era of globalization, socio-economic factors play significant roles in human mobility.


There is no internationally accepted statistical definition of labour mobility. However, the main factors in labour mobility are migrant workers, which the International Labour Organization (ILO) defines as:  “all international migrants who are currently employed or unemployed and seeking employment in their present country of residence.” (ILO, 2015). Labour mobility simply connotes mobility for the main purpose of employment. Labour migrants often work in the informal sector and are usually exposed to abuses resulting from xenophobia (fear of strangers) and racism especially the international migrants. Labour migrants lack legal protection, and insufficient information about their rights makes them vulnerable to exploitation and abuse from recruiters, employers, and authorities.

In 2013, migrant workers accounted for approximately 64 per cent of the world‟s international migrant population (ILO, 2015). Crossing national borders to work is one of the key motivations behind international mobility, whether driven by economic inequalities, seeking employment, or both. According to the ILO global estimates on migrant workers, in 2017, migrant workers accounted for 164 million of the world‟s approximately 258 million international migrants. Migrant workers contribute to growth and development in their countries of destination, while countries of origin greatly benefit from their remittances and the skills acquired during their mobility experience. Yet, the mobility process implies complex challenges in terms of governance, migrant workers’ protection, mobility and development linkages, and international cooperation. Those who migrate to new areas experience certain sociopsychological problems of adjustments with the residents of place of mobility. Mobility directly impacts the migrants, their families and their employers, and also impacts development indirectly. Development in turn impacts mobility. There is no doubt that mobility is a very important driver of development (World Bank, 2013).  Supporters of allowing free movement of labour argue that labour mobility is a positive-sum game rather than a zerosum game.

Labour migrants refers to those seeking work or employed in the host country, or previously seeking work or employed but unable to continue working and remaining in residence in the host country irrespective of their documentation. In terms of estimating how many migrants are labour migrants, some use legal status, some use motivation, and others general employment. According to the International Organization for Mobility (IOM), “Labour migrants” are defined as those who move for the purpose of employment. The Encyclopaedia Britannica defines Migrant labour as casual and unskilled workers who move about systematically from one region to another offering their services on a temporary, usually seasonal basis. A “Migrant Worker” is defined in the International Labour Organization (ILO) instruments as a person who migrates from one country to another (or who has migrated from one country to another) with a view to being employed other than on his own account, and includes any person regularly admitted as a migrant for employment 

The United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families defines a migrant worker as a person who is to be engaged, is engaged or has been engaged in a remunerated activity in a state of which he or she is not a citizen.

The 2004 International Labour Conference (ILC) of the International Labour Organization resolution concerning migrant workers in a global economy identified several categories of highly vulnerable migrant workers: women migrant workers, particularly women in domestic service and the informal economy; temporary migrant workers, including seasonal workers; and migrant workers in irregular status, including trafficked workers (ILO, 2004a).

Labour Force

Labour force comprises all persons who are of working age (i.e. aged 15 to 64) and are either „employed‟ or „unemployed‟ (i.e. seeking employment) during the reference period, according to national conventions. Employment rate by age group are indicated as follows: people aged 15 to 24 (those just entering the labour market); people aged 25 to 54 (those in their main working lives); people aged 55 to 64 (those passing the peak of their career and approaching retirement) (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), 2019).

Although mobility for the purposes of work can be an empowering experience for some women from traditional societies, it can also lead them into situations of abuse and exploitation. Women migrant workers may be victims of “double discrimination” – as migrant workers and as women. Attention must be paid to protecting women from the problems and conditions they can face, such as sexual exploitation, violence and trafficking, and to the conditions of certain forms of work held predominantly by women migrant workers, such as domestic work. Women migrant workers are often directed into traditional forms of “women‟s work” and paid less than men for work of comparable skill levels. They may be more isolated than men migrant workers, again, for example, when they perform domestic work. Women migrant workers in some countries are required to undergo pregnancy testing and are then subject to termination of employment and deportation if the result is positive. 

Domestic Workers 

Presence of foreign maids in turn allows women with children in destination countries to work for wages, so that many of the world‟s women are able to pursue paid employment outside the home (ILO, 2003e, Booklet 1).

Women predominates Domestic migrant workers are among the vulnerable groups of migrant workers. Most are women moving from poorer to richer countries, and most leave their children behind, often in the care of relatives or a caregiver hired locally, creating global care chains

Government policies of origin countries towards women going abroad to be domestic workers range from a liberal approach to highly regulated systems. As noted above, a few countries, such as Bangladesh and Pakistan, completely ban the emobility of low-skilled female workers, to prevent them from being subjected to the abusive conditions which too frequently exist in domestic work. They generally receive very low wages and have inadequate health insurance coverage, if any at all. They are frequently exposed to physical and sexual harassment, violence and abuse. In some cases they are trapped in situations where they are physically or legally restrained from leaving the employer‟s home by threats or actual violence, by withholding of pay, or by confiscation of identity documents (ILO, 2003e). In the case of Malaysia and Singapore, domestic workers must undergo periodic pregnancy tests and are immediately deported if they test positive, in contravention of the ILO ‟s Maternity Protection Convention, 2000 (No. 183). 

Domestic workers are not being covered by laws on pay and working hours, safety and health, or other working conditions. In many countries, migrant domestic workers do not enjoy equality of treatment in respect of many protections and rights, particularly social protection. Pregnancy or positive HIV status often result in the worker‟s dismissal, either formally or informally (ILO, 2009e). Non-payment or delayed payment of wages is also a common practice in private households employing domestic workers. Employers often refuse to pay their domestic workers in full until they have completed their contracts (Wickramasekara, 2005a). 


Neo- Classical Theory of mobility

Neo-classical theory of mobility reveals that, mobility of labour is due to the differences in the real wages between the countries and mobility of labour brings equilibrium in the international labour market which wipes away the wage differences between the countries. The neo- classical theory explains both the macro and micro aspects of mobility. The neo-classical macro theory of mobility dates back to Hicks (1932). 

In view of this theory, the unbalanced distribution of capital and labour at the macro level causes inequality in wages and living conditions and leads to mobility. The migrants move towards the places where employment, wages and other economic conditions are more favourable to them giving high chances of ending the differences in wages and living conditions between places. The neo-classical micro approach of mobility (The Theory of the New Economics of Mobility) considers not only the labour market but also the conditions of other markets such as the capital market or unemployment insurance market as reasons for mobility. In addition, this theory also considers household strategy behind mobility as the actual drive of mobility is to change the source of income rather than maximize the income. This theory also emphasises the importance of financial transfers of mobility in the context of socio-cultural changes. Moreover, this theory also helps to understand why individuals of a particular community are potential migrants. It also observes that poor people are less inclined to mobility compared to the rich due to the high costs of mobility (International Labour Organization (IOM), 2003).

Some Nigeria citizens today have left for Abroad in search of jobs, while others are already working there due to the believe that they will earn more pay than staying in Nigeria to work, some are already workers with the government and other organizations but they deserted the jobs because of the salaries and the working conditions. There lecturers among these people also. This shows that the first thing most individual are looking for in any given organisation is the remuneration and work conditions. 

The theory was criticized on the ground that it mechanically reduces mobility determinants which is the exclusion of politics and policies, its assumes linearity which shows that the theory is unable to explain differential mobility that is why people do not move or why mobility ceases before wage differentials equalize, ignores market imperfections, homogenization of migrants in tandem with societies, and static perspective (Arango, 2000; Massey et al., 1998, and de Haas, 2008). 

New economic theory of mobility

The new economics of mobility (NEM) theory has come to challenge some of the assumptions of the neoclassical approach, offering a new level of analysis and different nature of mobility determinants and it shifted the focus of mobility research from individual independence to mutual interdependence (Stark, 1991). The main focus in this theoretical argument is that mobility decisions are not made by isolated individual actors but typically by families or households. Further, the decisions of migrants are influenced by a comprehensive set of factors which are shaped by conditions in the home country. As such, migrant decisions are not based purely on individual utility-maximizing calculations but are rather a household response to both income risk and to the failures of a variety of markets;labour market, credit market, or insurance market (Massey, et al. 1993). Hence, mobility in the absence of meaningful wage differentials or the absence of mobility in the presence of wage differentials, does not imply irrationality but rather compels us to consider a set of other variables related to relative deprivation (a household performing relatively worse to other households will be readier to send a member abroad, this is very common in Nigeria society especially among the Igbo young men in the south eastern part of the country) and risk-aversion and risk-minimization of household income (Stark 1991; Stark 2003). Stark largely had in mind the risk aversion of poor households in developing countries where there are rarely institutional mechanisms present, such as government programs or private insurance markets, and therefore mobility provides a meaningful strategy in dealing with different market failures. Remittances play an important and integral part in the new economics of mobility research as they directly support the concept of household interconnectedness and the diversification of risk while analytically connecting the empirical study of the causes and consequences of mobility (Taylor, 1999).

This theory was criticized for sending-side bias and for its limited applicability due to difficulties in isolating the effects of market imperfections and risks from other income and employment variables. The theory has not received much following or empirical testing. Essentially a social choice account, it has also been critiqued for overlooking dynamics within households (i.e. gender roles) and being too heavily future oriented (Faist, 2000).

The above reviewed theories indicate that the impetus for labour mobility under the Neo-classical theory mobility is as the result of inequality in wages and labour conditions, while in New economic theory, the driving force for labour mobility is not based on individual desires for income maximization but on household or families response for the change of their social status from downward mobility to upward mobility.


  1. To understand the nature and identify causes of unemployment in Nigeria
  2. To understand the effect, and impact of regional mobility on Nigeria economy
  3. To understand the relationship between unemployment and regional mobility in Nigeria
  4. To recommend solutions to challenges facing regional mobility in Nigeria.


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