Social protection and risk: the ultimate root cause of migration?

By Jason Gagnon, Development economist / PGD coordinator, OECD Development Centre and Jessica Hagen-Zanker, Senior Research Fellow, Overseas Development Institute
 

Social-protection-women-cash-2
Receiving cash transfers in Freetown, Sierra Leone (photo: Dominic Chavez/World Bank)

According to recent estimates, 258 million people in the world were living outside of their country of birth in 2017, up from a total of 161 million in 1990. That represents an increase of 60%. Under different circumstances, most migrants would never migrate in the first place; they would choose to stay close to their family and friends, and the food, music and culture they cherish. Migration – in these cases – is the consequence of something gone wrong.

So why do they leave? Poverty and lack of opportunities for a better future are the typical culprits. But it’s more complicated than that.

Risk is another factor that pushes many people to migrate. The mere risk of falling (back) into poverty can motivate migration. Indeed, migration theory has long described migration as a coping strategy to deal with risk. Empirical evidence confirms this. A 2016 qualitative study on Bolivia found that (internal) migration was a typical response by rural households in response to risks related to land access, insufficient work opportunities and low agricultural productivity. More evidence (on China) suggests that attitude towards risk can even determine who migrates from within the household. Continue reading

Let’s be transparent about refugee and IDP statistics

By Justin Schon, Postdoctoral Associate, University of Florida

refugeesIn March 2018, the Expert Group on Refugee and Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Statistics (ERGIS) released detailed reports on the status of refugee and IDP statistics and challenges in compiling these statistics. The reports made many valuable recommendations for how to increase the quality and quantity of migration data, but several recent developments highlight the need to also be more transparent about the types of uncertainty that exist in our measurements.

Uganda announced in October that a recent census had revealed that it currently hosts 1.1 million refugees, not 1.4 million as had previously been believed. IOM data on displacement from Mosul in Iraq during the 2016-2017 military offensive to retake the city from ISIS forces show a sudden jump in the estimate of IDPs due to a counting adjustment. Fabrice Balanche notes that UNOCHA decreased its estimate of Syrian IDPs from 7.5 million to 6.5 million during the fall of 2015, simply due to blatant overestimates that it knew were being provided.

Uncertain estimates even exist in refugee camps, where there are large numbers of humanitarian personnel. Officials in Jordan’s Zaatari refugee camp have significantly revised its estimated population multiple times after new counts. For example, the REACH initiative conducted a camp census from December 30, 2014 through January 18, 2015, and counted 7 954 fewer people in the camp than during the June 2014 count. On July 10, 2018, UNHCR deactivated nearly 11 000 camp registrations due either because they were absent from the camp, they were bailed out, they had registered elsewhere in an urban location, or they had returned to their country of origin. Continue reading

What’s behind West African migration? Findings from nationwide surveys

By Matthew Kirwin, United States Department of State and National Intelligence University 2017-18 Research Fellow and Jessica Anderson, Institute for the Study of International Migration, Georgetown University

Gambian migrants deported from Libya stand in line as they wait for registration at the airport in Banjul
© Luc Gnago/Reuters

The movement of sub-Saharan Africans through North Africa and on to Europe persists in the media spotlight. Over 700 000 African migrants have arrived in Italy through the perilous Central Mediterranean Route since 20141, and nearly 190 000 arrived in 2017 alone according to the International Organization of Migration (IOM). While 2018 numbers for this route are slightly lower2, Africans are now testing their luck with both the Central Mediterranean Route and a new path, seeking to reach Europe via Morocco and Spain. In the first half of 2018, the number of migrants entering through Spain has risen dramatically.3 Continue reading

Understanding South-South migration

By Jason Gagnon, PGD1 coordinator, OECD Development Centre

Uganda-bus-station-PGD.jpg

Migration is the talk of the moment. Last week, I participated in the 11th GFMD2 Summit and the Intergovernmental Conference on the GCM3, where experts debated migration’s place in today’s global context. The outcome: 163 member countries of the United Nations pledged their support for a ground breaking document establishing migration – and migrants – as a vehicle for good.

Amongst the many debates, much talk was on South-South migration (SSM) and on the future particularly of Africa in this regard. But why this focus? Most studies on SSM fail to clarify what is different about SSM and why we should pay attention to it. Arguments are good for why SSM may be similar or different to what we’ve come to expect from previously studied migration corridors. But there are also many misconceptions on SSM – particularly in Africa. So what do we know?

Most of this misconceived perception lies in how we measure stocks, which currently tells us that more migrants born in the South live elsewhere in the South (than in the North): 53% to be exact in Africa. And the numbers are indeed much higher when we dig more locally: 71% in sub-Saharan Africa. Dig down deeper and the rate increases even more: up to 79% in Middle Africa.

Continue reading

Why understanding the relationship between migration and inequality may be the key to Africa’s development

Print

By Professor Heaven Crawley, Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations (CTPSR), Coventry University, UK


Learn more about this timely topic at the upcoming
18th International Economic Forum on Africa


Africa-MigrationPick up any newspaper or switch on any TV in Europe over the past five years and you might think that the entire population of Africa is on the move – and heading across the Mediterranean. Images of young men travelling in boats in search of protection and a better life for themselves and their families have become a staple part of the media diet, with the so-called ‘migration crisis’ dominating political debates within the European Union and beyond. The use of development assistance to leverage co-operation and compliance from African countries in limiting migration flows has, in turn, become an increasingly important focus of policy efforts.

But these representations and the policies with which they have come to be associated reflect long-standing biases in how we think about migration in the African context.

Continue reading

Migration and Africa: Driving better policy choices by changing the conversation

Print

By Faten Aggad1 Non-resident Business Associate and International Consultant, Maendeleo Group, Cape Town, South Africa


Learn more about this timely topic at the upcoming
18th International Economic Forum on Africa


 

shutterstock_699139378The conversation needs to change when it comes to migration and Africa, replacing the narrative about an exodus out of the continent to one about people moving to other countries within the continent. The difference matters.

In its most recent round of surveys in nine African countries, the Afrobarometer revealed that 64% of Africans do not wish to emigrate. Of the remaining 37% who have considered leaving their countries, almost half would like to relocate to another country in their immediate region (37%) or to other parts of Africa (10%). Only 20% would consider Europe as a destination should they actually emigrate. Others opt for North America and Asia.

Continue reading

Feeding the Global Compact on Migration: How do immigrants contribute to developing countries’ economies?

By Michelle Leighton, Chief, Labour Migration Branch, International Labour Organization (ILO), and Theo Sparreboom, Senior Economist, ILO


Woman-sewing-Ha-Tay-Vietnam
Photo: Shutterstock.com

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