Results & Trends V: Is It All About the Money?

By Caroline Osella|June 6, 2019|project outputs, project results and findings, Uncategorized|0 comments

3 periods of Kerala fieldwork over 2 years. 84 respondents. Mixed ages, provenance, community and class, different migration destinations.

Special focus on Mavelikkara, Calicut & Mattancherry


Respondents split by gender





A mix of retired, returned, current migrants

Their response to my key question: is Gulf migration only about the money?

You’ll be thinking I’ve made this up – such a neat result. Split straight down the middle.

I promise (and REALM –  who have access to all the raw data – can verify) that it turned out like this. I checked it four times.

Here’s some of the comments I was given in migrant interviews when we discussed the question of whether Gulf migration is purely economic – or also has lifestyle aspects.

  • ‘One thing is certain: if we want family life, we must send one person from the household to the Gulf. But it’s only for the money’
  • ‘Here in India, corruption is rampant, including in the justice system. In the Gulf, even an Indian can get justice and be protected’
  • ‘Nobody in this generation wants the Gulf. They are starting businesses’
  • ‘I came here (Kerala) in December, I’m due back (to Gulf) in February, and I can’t wait. I’m sitting here waiting.’
  • There are so many opportunities now in Kerala. I plan to buy a small car and do Uber, and also start a dairy farm’
  • ‘In Gulf, fruit and veg and food is good quality. In Kerala, people chase profit and don’t pay attention to quality’
  • Gulf is like an ATM, you only go for money
  • ‘In Gulf we get best of East and West’

As you can see, opinions split; and the reasonings ranged over many factors – which I’ll be giving more details about in future posts. I have 84 interviews and cannot post all the data, but I’ll be pulling out some quotes and summarising the main themes that came through.

Let’s stop here with two contrasting quotes that exemplify how varied and how passionate were the responses were to this key core question:

  • ‘Kerala is God’s own country, full of hell’s own people’
  • ‘Gulf is only for money. India is the only place with a heartbeat, the only country in the planet with a heartbeat’


NOTE: We are having difficulties with software transporting databased tables into document. We hope to update soon with better quality images of the tables.

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