Determinants of rural out-migration : Agro-Manitoba, 1961-1981

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Chan, Fung Kwan Wong
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Outmigration has been recognized as a major regional problem contributing to disparity in Agro-Manitoba. Since the 1960s, both the federal and provincial governments have attempted to solve this problem mainly through economic-oriented initiatives. These initiatives include the land and water resources programmes, not to speak of the agricultural and non-agricultural programmes. It has been the intention of governments to resolve the migration problem by stimulating regional economic growth. The latter, in turn, aims to narrow the gap in the level of development among the rural municipalities in Agro - Manitoba. However, despite more than two decades of governmental attention, regional disparity was still very much in evidence in 1981. This may reflect an absence of adequate understanding of the outmigration phenomenon. Therefore, the objective of this research is to examine the major determinants of outmigration for Agro-Manitoba in a longitudinal study through two time periods, 1961-1971 and 1971-1981, so as to shed light on future regional development planning for the 112 rural municipalities. Past studies indicated that outmigration is not only a result of economic, social and environmental forces, but it, too, affects regional economic growth in terms of the level of income and employment opportunities. Mutual interaction relationship between outmigration and regional growth has thus been well realised. If the real mechanism underlying outmigration is to be understood, then, the two-way interaction relationship ought to be examined, and that purpose has been accomplished in this thesis. Thus, a simultaneous-equations model which allows for the incorporation of the two-way interaction between outmigration and the regional growth variables is constructed for each time period. Outcomes of the model indicate that outmigration is a disequilibrium process, having the effect of widening regional disparity in the more recent period. This reaffirms the vital role of governments in tempering regional disparity. Besides, this study shows that the economic dimension should still be the primary focus of regional development. In short, more attention should be paid to the non-agricultural sector because of its capacity for providing more employment opportunities to the localities. At the same time, the model indicates that improvements in the quality-of-life would complement the implementation of economic initiatives because individuals are increasingly concerned with the availability of public services and the betterment of housing conditions.