SIHMA | Scalabrini Institute For Human Mobility In Africa

Differences in Mental Health among Migrants and Non-migrants in South Africa: Evidence from the National Income Dynamics Study’


Have you ever thought about how your mental health and feeling of joy and jubilation or those of sadness and depression may be linked to certain aspects of your life and or past experience?  A number of factors influence our mental health and well-being and one of these is, in some cases, the impact of migration whether it be internal or international migration. It is also interesting to consider how various demographics like age, marital status, gender, and employment effect mental health outcomes in the migrant and non-migrant context. In SIHMA and UWC’s African Human Mobility Review Journal, Hemish Govera and Amiena Bayat Adebayo explore and consider the mental health of internal migrants relative to that of non-migrants with some interesting and at times unexpected results.  

The article may be summarised as follows: 

The literature associates migration with poor mental health outcomes. Despite extensive empirical research in other countries, there is a paucity of research examining the mental health consequences of migration in South Africa, and the factors that compound the relationship between the two variables. The study objective was to evaluate the differences in the mental health status of internal migrants and that of non-migrants in South Africa with a special focus on depressive symptoms. The study considered the influence of various vulnerability and sociodemographic factors such as gender, age, educational attainment, race, income group, marital status and province of residence. Mental health disorders are already considered the largest contributor to the global disease burden. Hence, understanding the nature of the relationship between migration and mental health is critical for public health prevention efforts. To make the determination, the study applied descriptive analysis and logistic modelling based on the South African National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS) panel datasets of 2008, 2010, 2014/15 and 2017. Descriptive statistics were employed to derive the frequency distribution of sociodemographic characteristics and migration factors. Logistic regression analysis was used to assess the associations between depression, migration and sociodemographic factors. (1).

If you are interested in perhaps writing for the African Human Mobility Review, please follow this link on making a submission: 


James Chapman               and              Maita Deborah Jena


SIHMA                                                   SIHMA 

Project Manager                                    Research and Communication Intern




  1. Abstract from ‘Differences in Mental Health among Migrants and Non-migrants in South Africa: Evidence from the National Income Dynamics Study’ by Hemish Govera and Amiena Bayat  in African Human Mobility Review Vol 6, No. 3 Sep-Dec 2020. For the abstract and full article see:


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