In the last Population and Housing Census of Bhutan (PHCB) survey in 2005, 32.7 percent of the population born in Bhutan has migrated between Dzongkhags and the main reason was due to the family moving.
According to the recent report on the Population and Housing Census of Bhutan (PHCB), 2017 migration has increased as out of the total 686,697 people born in the country, 334,185 persons have migrated between Gewog and a town at some point of time or since their birth which comprises of almost half (48.7 percent) of the population.
“Of the total migrants, 51.0 percent are males while 49.0 percent are females”, states the report on PHCB 2017.
The rural to urban migration is the highest as compared to all other possibilities, accounting for 21.7 percent the population born in Bhutan, and almost half (44.2 percent) of all the migrants.
As per the PHCB 2017, the common reasons cited for migration is family moving (17.8 percent) followed by employment (12.7 percent) and education (8.3 percent).
In addition, search for better employment opportunities have been stated as the main reason for migration for males (18.7 percent) and family movement for females (23.0 percent) followed by reasons like education (7.6 percent) and marriage (7.5 percent) for the female population.
According to the report Family move (13.1 percent) and education (8.9 percent) are the second and the third most stated reasons for the migration in the male population.
Prime Minister Lyonchhen Dasho Tshering Tobgay, said that that migration should take place in all the Thromdes and they should not just flock in one particular region or Thromde like Thimphu.
Lyonchhen thereby urged the planners to come up with proper planning that has better infrastructure development in every Thromde so as to avoid migration in a single area which will lead to congestion in every sense.
Meanwhile, the migrant population largely comprises of younger age groups, and maximum are in the age group 25-29 years where it has been found that 66 percent of the people in this age group have changed their place of residence at least once.
The report also states that from 334,185 persons, 81.9 percent have changed their Dzongkhag or Thromde since birth of which 40.8 percent of the migrants are males while 38.9 percent are females in 2017 as compared to 34.3 percent male and 31.0 percent female in 2005.
The total number of migrants has thus, increased by about 80,563 persons between 2005 and 2017.
In addition, keeping with long term trends most Dzongkhags in Western Bhutan have experienced population gains from positive net migration, while the Dzongkhags in east are losing population from negative net migration.
“Thimphu Thromde gained 68,310 persons and lost 20,096 persons, accounting to net gain of 48,214 persons and Trashigang Dzongkhag lost 31,390 persons and gained 8,394 persons, accounting to a net loss of 23,536 persons”, states the report.
Zhemgang, Lhuentse and Trashigang are top losing Dzongkhags with 56,970 people leaving. “Out of 20 Dzongkhags and 4 Thromdes, 12 Dzongkhags have lost their population due to out-migration, while 8 Dzongkhags have gained populations due to in migration.”
From a total of 56,970 persons who have migrated out from Zhemgang, Trashigang and Lhuentse, the majority (25.9 percent) have migrated to Thimphu Thromde, while a little over 20 percent have migrated to Sarpang (8.0 percent), Paro (7.0 percent), Phuntsholing Thromde (5.8 percent) and Samtse (5.6 percent).
A total of 101,908 persons have in-migrated to Thimphu Thromde, Phuntsholing Thromde, and Thimphu Dzongkhag from different parts of the country. The total numbers of lifetime migrants from eastern dzongkhags are 58,212 persons followed by central western with 27,501 persons and central eastern regions with 21,377 persons. In addition, the report also states that the flow from the western areas to eastern, central western, and central eastern areas are 8,555 persons, 12,487 persons and 9,121 persons respectively.
The report states, “Rural to rural migration make’s up the second largest stream with 18 percent of the total population born in Bhutan and 36.6 percent of the total migrant population”.
More than half of the population in the Thromdes were born in rural areas and have moved since birth to the four Thromdes. Moreover, 59.25 percent of the populations were born in the rural part of the country in Samdrup Jongkhar Thromde and 54.0 percent in Thimphu Thromde. The percentage of rural to urban migrants for all dzongkhags is less than 25 percent.
As migration is mostly seen as a young phenomenon, there may be issue of elderly population being left behind in the losing Dzongkhags. Pemagatshel, Zhemgang, Trashigang, Trashi Yangtse, Tsirang, Lhuentse, Bumthang and Dagana all have elderly population higher than the national composition of 6 percent. Pemagatshel and Zhemgang have the highest elderly population composition at 10 percent and 9 percent respectively.