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Quest for education creating graying ghost towns at top of the world
Date:6/18/2014

Ethnic Tibetan communities in Nepal's highlands are rapidly shrinking as more parents send their children away for a better education and modern careers, a trend that threatens to create a region of graying ghost towns at the top of the world, according to a study that includes Dartmouth College.

The findings, which have major social and demographic implications for the Himalayan region, appear in the journal Mountain Research and Development. A PDF of the study is available on request.

Taken together, the outmigration of young people, a low birth rate and population aging raises the specter of a massive population decline that has already exceeded 30 percent in the past decade in some communities, says study co-author Dartmouth Associate Professor Sienna Craig. The study predicts a further population decline of 50 percent to 60 percent in the next decade, a trend not likely to be slowed by tourism, niche agriculture or other potential economic opportunities that might prompt the "educational migrants" to return to their native homes.

Population decline in poor, rural or mountainous regions of the world isn't new, but this is perhaps the first documented case where large-scale outmigration is driven not by disease, famine, war, colonial policies, forced assimilation and manual labor markets, but by parental quest to improve their very young children's education. That seemingly temporary choice often leads to permanent relocation when those children grow up and with their parents' support seek professional careers in urban settings that they have become accustomed to in Nepal, India and further abroad.

The outmigration stems from the 1960s when China's Cultural Revolution closed Tibet's monasteries where many rural children were educa
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Contact: John Cramer
John.Cramer@Dartmouth.edu
603-646-9130
Dartmouth College
Source:Eurekalert  

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