116 Int'l Lab. Rev. 303 (1977)
Labour Migration and Development in Guyana

handle is hein.journals/intlr116 and id is 311 raw text is: International Labour Review, Vol. 116, No. 3, November-December 1977

Labour migration
and development in Guyana
Guy STANDING and Fred SUKDEO'
Introduction
Of the many paths taken to development Guyana's can be counted as
among the more radical. Guyana has a small population and a relatively large
land area; economically and socially it has long been dominated by raw
material, export-oriented production-mainly sugar, rice and bauxite. The
colonial legacy was a rural economy based on plantation agriculture which had
hindered and discouraged the development of small-scale productive farming.2
With a stagnant rural economy a very large proportion of the population
drifted to the coastal strip, particularly to the capital city of Georgetown.3 The
pattern of migration has been associated with chronically high urban unem-
ployment, and has been a major symptom of the agricultural stagnation which
the Government is now attempting to remedy through various rural develop-
ment measures.4
1 Respectively, International Labour Office and Institute of Development Studies, Uni-
versity of Guyana. The authors are grateful to P. Peek and P. Singh for useful comments.
2 For a historical account see J. R. Mandle: The plantation economy: population and
economic change in Guyana 1838-1960 (Philadelphia, Temple University Press, 1973).
3 A related phenomenon is the extremely high level of emigration from the country,
mainly to North America, which has seriously depleted the country of much so-called  high-
level manpower .
4 It is too soon to fully assess the success of those policies, but at the beginning of 1977
the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) of the University of Guyana, in collaboration with
the ILO, initiated a research project to analyse the causes of rural-urban migration, its major
socio-economic implications, and the effects of government policies on its level and pattern.
To assist in this programme the Government Statistical Bureau has launched a national
sample survey in which factors inducing migration are being studied. The survey was pre-
tested in March 1977 and a sample of 6,000 households drawn from various parts of the
country were interviewed between May and July. Fortunately the same households were
surveyed in 1976, so that the analysis will be able to use some longitudinal information.
The ILO-IDS project is designed to last into late 1978, but is expected to lead on to more
detailed analyses of specific policies which are being evolved within the Government's general
programme of rural development. At present little is known about migration in Guyana, the
changing structure of the country's labour force, or how the labour market functions there, so
the project should also shed light on a range of subsidiary issues such as these.
(footnote concluded overleaf)
Copyright  International Labour Organisation 1977                         303

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