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Title: Young people and migration in Ghana
Author: Yeboah, Thomas
ISNI:       0000 0004 7229 2671
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2018
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This study is concerned with migration of children/young people from northern to southern cities in Ghana. It focuses attention on the following specific research questions: What are young peoples’ motivations for migration, and negotiations surrounding the decision-making process? What are the precarious employment and living situation associated with young migrants? In what ways do social networks support young migrants in the migration process? What role does migration for work play in the lives of young migrants and their left behind families? What are young migrants’ aspirations for the future? To answer these questions, the study draws on the analytical insights gained from the concept of social navigation and social capital/network literatures, and primary research conducted in Ghana. A key finding from this study demonstrate that young peoples’ migration is closely linked to the unequal spatial development manifested in relative poverty conditions in rural northern Ghana, and the desires of children/young people to work and earn income in the south, where better economic prospect exists. Migration is also propelled by young migrants’ decisions to be free from strained and abusive relationships. It is evident that young migrants’ transitions into the labour market demonstrates their own agency and the important role that their networks can play in providing the finance necessary for travel and to secure work. The experiences of migration vary greatly involving both negative and positive aspects. Their precarious employment situation involves considerable uncertainty and risk, and exploitation by employers and clients. Incomes are low and irregular, which brings additional difficulties in fulfilling daily subsistence needs. Some of these difficulties are mitigated through social networks. These networks are fundamental in the life trajectories of young migrants, right from the time the decision to migrate is taken. However, they are also associated with discrimination and exploitative practices. Findings also reveal that migration offer opportunities for youngsters to see new places, undertake paid work, earn income, save and engage in popular global culture of consumerism and materialism, and sending of remittances to left-behind families. Access to mobile phones facilitates communication with families up north and this helps in maintaining intergenerational relations that are spread across spatial boundaries. Future aspirations of the youngsters centred on desires for better job prospects and greater stability although lack of financial and linking social capital serve as constraints. Overall this study makes an important contribution to the literature by providing new insight on the pathways that migration may be beneficial to young people and their left behind families. The findings suggest that addressing the internal geographical imbalance in development between the north and south is key to tackling the interlinked problems associated with child migration in Ghana. Findings also call for interventions to better strengthen the agency of young migrants in navigating hardships while improving their wellbeing.
Supervisor: Nolan, Peter Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: young people ; migration ; agency ; constraints ; opportunities ; Ghana