Drivers of north-south migration in the Wa West District: Economic returns or migrants’ sub-culture

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This paper is published in: Journal of African Studies and Development

Paper by: Elijah Yendaw, Francis Dakyaga, Augustine Tanle, and Anthony Mwinilanaa Tampah-Naah

Abstract: In Ghana, three regions (Upper West, Upper East and Northern) have the highest proportion of voluntary out-migrants but the percentage share of the population of these regions together has been less than 20.0% since 1970. This phenomenon is due to north-south migration which has been widely attributed to low socio-economic development and unfavourable physical characteristics in these regions. The study examines the main drivers of out-migration from the Wa West District (WWD). Using mixed method approach, 120 respondents were surveyed while 12 key informants were interviewed in six selected communities. The results showed that both economic returns and migrants’ sub-culture were the factors that determine out-migration of young people from the WWD. In particular, sub-cultural values/attributes such as quest for modern lifestyles, improved physical appearances, adoption of day/popular southern names and enhanced family/self status were the key factors shaping outmigration in the study area. The study further revealed that job availability and modern lifestyles were the main factors that influenced migrants’ choice of destinations in southern Ghana. The government, through the Wa West District Assembly, the Savanna Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) and other development partners should rigorously promote socio-economic development in the north to reduce out-migration in the WWD.

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