Full Project Title: Should I stay or should I go? Understanding drivers of migration in the Murray-Darling Basin
This project was led by Dr Laurie Brown
Understanding the drivers of migration, broadly conceived, in the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) is fundamental to many of the key policy questions that arise in debates on MDB policies and water futures. Migration is an indicator of community resilience and a contributor to economic sustainability. Structural adjustment drives labour and capital flows, and is facilitated by out- and in-migration. Migration is itself an adaptive strategy, and can be deployed with both positive and negative consequences for people and places. Yet despite such obvious and important associations, the literature on migration in regional Australia generally - and the Murray-Darling Basin in particular - is relatively thin. Research in the Basin typically looks at the question of migration at a high regional level ('from the top down', and often from a limited Input-Output (I/O) perspective) and concentrates on net migration flows only (ie. the net balance of in- and out-migration).
This project will adapt and combine philosophical, conceptual and methodological approaches from across disciplines (economics, decision theory, epidemiology, economic and social psychology) to develop a much deeper understanding of the drivers of migration and mobility in the Murray-Darling Basin. We propose to explain migration from a new household decision perspective, from and within the Basin. By focussing from the 'bottom up' on those who make decisions to migrate– individuals, households and potentially businesses - this project will bring a new perspective to the issue of characterising and quantifying population flows in the MDB.
To our knowledge, this household perspective is entirely novel in the context of the modelling of rural and regional migration in Australia. We employ, quantitative and simulation methodologies, and technical approaches from multiple disciplines, to enrich our understanding of household decisions in MDB communities under stress or facing change. This provides an outstanding opportunity to conduct original research that will better inform policy development in the Murray-Darling Basin and likely have international ramifications for knowledge and policy.
Key Project Aims
- Can we better understand the decision processes that drive migration flows across space, state and place in the Murray-Darling Basin?
- Which environmental, economic, social and personal factors impact most heavily on the decisions of individuals or families to move away from their area, or to remain in place?
- How do migration decisions vary between irrigating and non-irrigating communities within the Basin?
- Do the characteristics and circumstances of areas that people move to differ systematically from those they leave?
- What predicts people's integration into their new area and successful establishment of a new life, or their failure to do so?
- What are the consequences of migration for those families and communities that remain in place?
Photo courtesy of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority. A drive in the country near Bredbo - The eroded landscape is evident when travelling along this dirt road in the Murrumbidgee Catchment area near Bredbo, New South Wales. Image was taken in July 2008.
MDBfutures is supported by the Australian Government's Collaborative Research Networks program.