Invisible walls

That international borders limit migration is obvious. But why should provincial or state borders prevent people from moving within a country?  After all, most countries do not impose restrictions on mobility like the “hukou” system in China. Yet, in an article forthcoming in the Journal of Economic Geography, we find evidence of “invisible walls” between Indian states (Kone, Zovanga Louis; Mattoo, Aaditya; Ozden, Caglar; Sharma, Siddharth. 2017). Indians, particularly men seeking education and jobs, display a puzzling reluctance to cross state borders.•

On the face of it, internal migrants represented 30 percent of India’s population in 2001. But this number is deceptively large: two-thirds were migrants within districts, and more than half were women migrating for marriage. Figure 1 reveals internal migration rates across states were nearly four times higher in Brazil and China, and more than nine times higher in the United States in the five years ending in 2001. —