Exploring Household Financial Decision-making through a Migration Lens

This study examines the factors that shape financial decision-making in migrant households in India and aims to bridge gaps in the current literature on financial preferences and practices of migrant households.


Existing literature on migration and financial inclusion primarily focuses on either migrant workers and their financial needs, or remittance flows and their effects on development, leaving the subject of household decision-making significantly under-researched. This study examines household financial decision-making through the lens of migration, by comparing the financial preferences and decisions of migrant and non-migrant households.


This study adopts a comparative approach to determine how factors such as migrant preferences, gender, composition of the household, and years of migration influence financial decision-making in migrant households, and how financial preferences of households differ by migrant status in terms of risk tolerance, allocation of resources, and asset ownership. The study uses a mixed-methods design, combining logistic regression analysis and other statistical tests with key-informant interviews with local and state actors to provide valuable context on the dynamics of household decision-making, trends in migration, and deterrents to improved financial behaviour.


Low-income households in India rely on migration as a strategy to smoothen income and access economic opportunities. While much of the research on migration has focused on remittances, there is a critical need to understand what factors drive financial decision-making in migrant households and how these strategies may differ from non-migrant households.

Key Findings

Findings from the study document valuable insights about the financial choices and decision-making in migrant households. In terms of financial decision-making, it is observed that migrants have the greatest control over most financial decisions, especially when living at home. The allocation of financial decisions is more complex when the migrant is away with migrants retaining control on large, important financial decisions and gendered power-dynamics influencing these in the event of a disagreement. 


The study results indicate that household members compete for influence over financial decisions and power balances change significantly whether the migrant is at home or at destination. These dynamics play an important role in determining household financial preferences. This suggests that financial products and interventions targeting specific financial behavior (for instance, financial literacy programs) need to take these factors into account since different households and different migrant types make these choices differently.

Related Resources

Journal Article: Calling the Shots: Determinants of Financial Decision-making and Behavior in Domestic Migrant Households in India

Presentation: Exploring Household Financial Decisions through a Migration Lens

Thematic Area

Financial Well-being and Social Protection

Project Leads

Shailender Swaminathan, Fabrizio Valenti, Lakshmi Kumar


Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, New Delhi/NCR migration corridor


Dvara Research Foundation