Motivations for Students in the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia to Emigrate Abroad
Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, The University of Tokyo
5-1-5 Kashiwanoha, Kashiwa, Chiba 277-8563, Japan
This study aims to find out the basis of Marshallese students’ aspirations to migrate abroad, determine whether intellectuals in the same country share such aspirations, observe how well Japanese university students and intellectuals understand why Marshallese students migrate, and compare the Marshallese students’ motivations to emigrate with those of students from the Federated States of Micronesia. I conducted a survey by interview and questionnaire in the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and Japan. I found that 65% of the students in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) felt education was the primary reason to migrate abroad, followed by work (15%), health (8%), family (7%), climate change (3%), and natural disasters (2%). The RMI intellectuals correctly guessed the relative importance students granted the factors (education, work, health, etc.). However, they underestimated the importance of education for the students. Eleven percent of the Japanese students assumed that Marshallese students would wish to migrate abroad because of climate change, which overestimates the students’ feelings about the issue. Interestingly, no Japanese student considered health or family to be possible reasons for RMI students to emigrate abroad. Perhaps, Japanese students were not aware of the prevalence of very strong family ties and inadequate medical facilities in RMI. There were similar percentages of students who wished to migrate because of climate change between the RMI (3%) and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) (4%). However, the RMI is an atoll country that may be submerged by climate change, and the FSM is mostly composed of volcanic islands that will not be submerged.
-  M. Nakayama et al., “Influence of Religion, Culture and Education on Perception of Climate Change, and its Implications,” J. Disaster Res., Vol.14, No.9, pp. 1297-1302, 2019.
-  S. N. McClain et al., “Migration, Transition, and Livelihoods: A Comparative Analysis of Marshallese Pre- and Post-Migration to the United States,” J. Disaster Res., Vol.14, No.9, pp. 1262-1266, 2019.
-  M. Burkett, K. van der Geest, and J. Fitzpatrick, “Preliminary Findings from Fieldwork in the Marshall Islands and Hawai‘i,” Marshall Islands Climate and Migration Project, 2018.
-  P. Rudiak-Gould, “Climate Change and Tradition in a Small Island State: The Rising Tide,” Routledge, 2013.
-  US Department of State, “Amending the Agreement of June 25, 1983, concerning the Compact of Free Association, As Amended Signed at Majuro April 30, 2003,” https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/173999.pdf [accessed April 9, 2019]
-  S. Drinkall et al., “Migration with Dignity: A Case Study on the Livelihood Transition of Micronesians to Portland and Salem, Oregon,” J. Disaster Res., Vol.14, No.9, pp. 1267-1276, 2019.
This article is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 Internationa License.