Social Capital and Livelihoods in Johannesburg: Differential Advantages and Unexpected Outcomes among Internal Migrants, Foreign-Born Migrants and Long-Term South African Residents

Tyler W. Myroniuk, University of Maryland
Jo Vearey, University of the Witwatersrand

Foreign-born migrants—a group rarely compared with both internal migrants and long-term residents—are often positioned as the most disadvantaged South African urban population. Migration researchers have also posited that a migrant’s success in their destination is likely related to one’s community ties and trust—types of social capital. We use data from a 2008 cross-sectional household survey conducted in Johannesburg to compare social capital and livelihood outcomes between foreign-born migrants, internal migrants, and long-term South African residents. Our findings challenge contemporary social capital and migration theories and emphasise the need to explore the heterogeneity of urban migrant populations by showing that (1) foreign-born migrants have better urban livelihood outcomes, and (2) indicators of social capital are not necessarily associated with improved livelihood outcomes.

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Presented in Poster Session 3