Bolivian transnational livelihoods: Impacts of labour migration on wellbeing and farming in Cochabamba

  • Datum:
  • Plats: Sal IV, Universitetshuset, Biskopsgatan 3, Uppsala
  • Doktorand: Jokinen, Johanna Carolina
  • Om avhandlingen
  • Arrangör: Kulturgeografiska institutionen
  • Kontaktperson: Jokinen, Johanna Carolina
  • Disputation

This thesis explores the diverse consequences of transnational labour migration on individual migrants and their household members within out-migration communities in the agricultural valleys of Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Using a multiple methods approach and the livelihoods framework, the aim of this work is to shed light on different experiences of migration in terms of objective wellbeing, subjective wellbeing, and changed practices in agricultural production. These issues are addressed in three papers.

Paper I investigates international migrants’ remittance behaviours through a regression analysis of a survey data set including household-level variables from the migrants’ place of origin, as well as their individual-level variables in their destination countries. The results highlight the role of remittances as a means to strengthen financial, physical, and human capital in low-income households and to promote local development and objective wellbeing in the outskirts of the city of Cochabamba.

Paper II explores ethnographic accounts of challenging migration conditions in order to develop the understanding of social networks. The study shows how family networks may function as negative social capital for individual migrants. The study findings emphasise the need to acknowledge migration as a dynamic process, with elements of both ’success’ and ’failure’, which can increase subjective wellbeing of the migrants and migrant households as well as counteract unrealistic expectations of migration.

Paper III examines the impact of transnational labour migration on agriculture in two urbanizing communities in Cochabamba by applying several qualitative methods. The results show that major investments in agricultural intensification by migrant households are not attractive due to the communities’ proximity to urban areas. This article highlights the need for nuanced conceptualization when studying migration-driven agricultural change in hybrid peri-urban spaces.

Overall, this thesis highlights the importance of considering and assessing the various capabilities and assets of migrants and their households, according to the livelihoods framework, when studying the consequences of transnational labour migration in socio-economically marginal settings. Furthermore, this thesis reveals that individual migrants’ agency may be limited when migration becomes an integral part of household livelihood strategies, which may hamper migrants’ subjective wellbeing as their household members are more focused on the economic returns of migration. Finally, this thesis emphasises how transnational labour migration and remittances function to maintain agricultural landesque-capital landscapes in peri-urbanising spaces near growing cities.