This paper draws on case studies in Mali, Nigeria, Tanzania and Vietnam to explore the different ways in which migration intersects with the changing relations between rural and urban areas and activities, and in the process transforms livelihoods and the relations between young and older men and women. Livelihood strategies are becoming increasingly diverse, and during interviews people were asked to describe their first, second and third occupations, the time allocated to each and the income that each produced. In all study regions, the number of young people migrating is increasing. This is influenced not only by expanding employment opportunities in destination areas but also by power inequalities within households, which means limited opportunities at home. It is increasingly common for young women to migrate, in part because they have no land rights and few prospects at home, in part because of more employment opportunities elsewhere.