By Jason Gagnon, Development economist, OECD Development Centre
Migration can lead to important gains for migrants, for their countries of origin and their destination. But this can only happen if migration happens under the right conditions. Destination and origin countries increasingly face common global challenges such as climate change, new technologies and long term changes in social behaviour. Furthermore, developing countries often have to manage and integrate migrant influxes themselves. All of this in a current state of an increasingly negative narrative surrounding migration. So how can migration be better managed? And what is the state of migration governance today? In between the first ever annual UN migration network meeting, and the first Global Refugee Forum (GRF), the OECD Development Centre held a debate – the Policy Dialogue on Migration and Development (PDMD) – with major players, governments, experts and policy-makers looking at the links between migration and development across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.
“Before going to Thailand, I already had sewing skills but I did not have the money to open a store. Instead, I had to work as an employee and earned a small income. When I got back to my hometown, I had some savings and was able to open a tailor shop.1”
– Female migrant worker from Viet Nam
Contrary to popular belief, migrants have a limited impact on labour market outcomes in low- and middle income countries.2 They are unlikely to take jobs from native-born workers. In some countries, including South Africa, immigration may even create jobs and raise the incomes of the native-born population.
One reason why migrants do not take away jobs is that they are often in jobs that do not appeal to native-born workers. These include so-called non-standard forms of employment such as temporary work, agency work, and dirty or dangerous work. This is not surprising since for many people migration is a necessity and not a choice. Poverty or lack of opportunity encourages people to look for prosperity abroad. While regular channels of migration exist, they are often bureaucratic and expensive. Migrants who use cheaper options may end up in situations of exploitation and abuse. Continue reading “Feeding the Global Compact on Migration: How do immigrants contribute to developing countries’ economies?”