Impact of Migration on Non-Migrant School Completion Rates and Enrolment in South Africa


  • Farai Nyika Economics academic at MANCOSA, South Africa
  • Debra Shepherd Department of Economics, Stellenbosch University, South Africa



migration, education, completion rates, enrolment, South Africa


South Africa struggles with low secondary-school completion rates and this has a negative effect on poverty and inequality. In this study, we examine the relationship between internal migration (international migrants were excluded) and non-migrant educational outcomes (secondary-school enrollment and completion rates) in South Africa between 1996 and 2011. We use census data for 1996, 2001, and 2011 (at district and municipal levels) in several linear probability regression models that include the First Difference (FD) and System Generalised Method of Moments (GMM-SYS) with instrumental variables. We find that internal migrants have a positive effect on both the enrollment and completion rates of non-migrants. These results vary in intensity depending on the level of education of both internal migrant and non-migrant household heads. These results have implications for the local labor market and for income inequality in South Africa; internal migrants provide positive peer effects that contribute to raising non-migrant school enrollment and completion. Internal migrants also provide job-market competition, which can influence non-migrants' decisions to complete secondary schooling. While prior research has tended to focus on the relationship between immigration and education outcomes in the developed world, there is scant empirical evidence on the impact of internal migration on education outcomes in African countries. Our paper provides evidence from a country with a history of persistent internal migration. We recommend that improvement of the quality of basic education – in both rural and urban areas – be a high priority of the South African government, as well as increased financial access to tertiary institutions.


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How to Cite

Nyika, F., & Shepherd , D. (2023). Impact of Migration on Non-Migrant School Completion Rates and Enrolment in South Africa. African Human Mobility Review, 9(1).