Remittances and circulation behavior in the livelihood process: Transmigrant families in South Sumatra, Indonesia

Thomas R. Leinbach, John F. Watkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Studies of remittances and remittance behavior have been dominated by emphases on relatively long-distance and long-term migration and on the urban-to-rural flow of capital and goods. Remittance impacts have also been explored, primarily in terms of local and regional development and family well-being. This paper expands our knowledge of remittances by extending the mobility component with a focus on fairly short-distance and short-term circulation in the context of the Indonesian transmigration program. The research takes a qualitative approach, with data derived from semistructured, open-ended interviews of 21 households and several village leaders in the transmigration scheme of Cinta Karya, South Sumatra. Findings are used to develop a schematic model of the peasant livelihood process, which demonstrates the complex decision-making pathways that emerge and evolve as families monitor and continually reallocate their resources to ensure basic survival and, if possible, enhanced well-being through capital accumulation and investments. Our findings illustrate that remittance behavior is spatially controlled and temporally variable, as families balance their labor and capital resources among farm production, local industry and investments, and the often unpredictable nature of circulation employment and remittances. We emphasize the linked and recursive nature of elements in the livelihood process and the related importance of temporal family dynamics in decision-making strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-63
Number of pages19
JournalEconomic Geography
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1998


  • Circulation behavior
  • Indonesia
  • Livelihood process model
  • Remittances
  • Transmigration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Economics and Econometrics


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