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October 01, 2017

Essays for IBPS PO VII : Effects of Economic Migration

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Effects of Economic Migration

Main Points to Highlight : Generally, it is assumed that migration typically flows from developing countries into the rich countries of Europe, North America and Australasia. Yet the fact is that most movement in the world does not take place between developing and developed countries; it does not even take place between countries. The overwhelming majority of migration takes place within a country. Most migrants, internal and international, reap gains in the form of higher incomes, better access to education and health, and improved prospects for their children. Despite the range of adjustments and obstacles typically involved in moving, most of them are happy in their destination. Once established, migrants are often more likely than local residents to join unions or religious and other groups. In general, however, people move of their own volition, to better- offplaces. More than three quarters of international migrants go to a country with a higher level of human development than their country of origin. Yet they are significantly constrained both by policies that impose barriers to entry and by the resources they have to enable their move. People in poor countries are the least mobile. For example less than one per cent of Africans have moved to Europe. Indeed history and contemporary evidence suggest that development and migration go hand in hand
We live in an unequal world. Huge differences can be found in human development across and within countries. For many people in developing countries moving away from their home town or village can be the best sometimes the only option open to improve their life chances. Human mobility can be hugely effective in raising a person's income, health and education prospects. But its value is more than that because being able to decide where to live is a key element of human freedom. 

When people migrate whether within or across international borders they embark on a journey of hope and uncertainty. Most people move in search of better opportunities hoping to combine their own talents with resources in the destination city or country so as to benefit themselves and their immediate family who often accompany or follow them. If they succeed, their initiative and efforts can also benefit those left behind and the society in which they make their new home. However, they may face loneliness as they would have left friends and family behind. They may feel unwelcome among people who fear or resent newcomers may lose their jobs or fall ill and thus is unable to access the support services they need in order to prosper. It may result in a failed migration.

Generally, it is assumed that migration or brain drain typically flows from developing countries into the rich countries of Europe, North America and Australasia. Yet the fact is that most movement in the world does not take place between developing and developed countries; it does not even take place between countries. The overwhelming majority of migration takes place within a country. 

The 2009 Human Development Report estimates that approximately 740 million people are internal migrants almost four times as many as those who have moved internationally. Among people who have moved across national borders just over a third moved from a developing to a developed country fewer than 70 million people. Most of the world's 200 million international migrants moved from one developing country to another or between developed countries. 

Most migrants, internal and international, reap gains in the form of higher incomes, better access to education and health and improved prospects for their children. Despite the range of adjustments and obstacles typically involved in moving most of them are happy in their destination. Once established, migrants are often more likely than local residents to join unions or religious and other groups.Yet, there are trade-offs and the gains from mobility- are unequally distributed. People displaced by insecurity and conflict face special challenges. There are an estimated 14 million refugees living outside their country of citizenship, representing about 7 per cent of the world's migrants. Most remain near the country they fled typically living in camps until conditions at home allow their return, but around half a million per year travel to developed countries and seek asylum there. A much larger number, some 26 million, have been internally displaced. 

They have crossed no frontiers, but may face special difficulties away from home in a country riven by conflict or racked by natural disasters. Another vulnerable group consists of people—mainly young women who have been trafficked. Often duped with promises of a better life their movement is not one of free will but of duress, sometimes accompanied by violence and sexual abuse. 

In general, however, people move of their own volition, to better-off places. More than three quarters of international migrants go to a country with a higher level of human development than their country of origin. Yet they are significantly constrained both by policies that impose barriers to entry and by the resources they have accessed to enable their move. People in poor countries are the least mobile. For example, less than one per cent of Africans have moved to Europe. Indeed, history and contemporary evidence suggest that development and migration go hand in hand. The median emigration rate in a country with low human development is below four per cent compared to more than 8 per cent from countries with high levels of human development. 

Demographic trends—an aging population in developed countries and young, still rising populations in developing countries and growing employment opportunities combined with cheaper communications and transport have increased the 'demand' for migration. However, those wishing to migrate have increasingly come up against government-imposed barriers to movement. Over the past century, the number of nation states has quadrupled to almost 200, creating more borders to cross while policy changes have further limited the scale of migration even as barriers to trade fall. 

Barriers to mobility are especially high for people with low skills despite the demand for their labor in many rich countries. Policies generally favor the admission of the better educated for instance by allowing students to stay after graduation and inviting professionals to settle with their families. But governments tend to be far more ambivalent with respect to low-skilled workers whose status and treatment often leave much to be desired. In many countries, agriculture, construction, manufacturing and service sectors have jobs that are filled by such migrants. 

Yet, governments often try to rotate less educated people in and out of the country. An estimated 50 million people today are living and working abroad with irregular status. It is because low-skilled migrant workers generate much controversy in destination country. It is widely believed that these migrants fill vacant jobs; they also displace local workers and reduce wages. Other concerns posed by migrant inflows include heightened risk of crime, added burdens on local services and the fear of losing social and cultural cohesion. But these concerns are often exaggerated. 

Migrants, however, boost economic output, at little or no cost to locals. Indeed, there may be broader positive effects for instance when the availability of migrants for childcare allows resident mothers to work out-side the home. As migrants acquire the language and other skills needed to move up the income ladder, many integrate quite naturally making fears about inassimilable foreigners—similar to those expressed early in the 20th century in America about the Irish for example, seem equally unwarranted with respect to newcomers today. It is also true that many migrants face systemic disadvantages, making it difficult or impossible for them to access local services on equal terms with local people. And these problems are especially severe for temporary and irregular workers. 

In migrants' countries of origin, the impacts of movement are felt in higher incomes and consumption, better education and improved health, as well as at a broader cultural and social level. Moving generally brings benefits most directly in the form of remittances sent to immediate family members. However, the benefits are also spread more broadly as remittances are spent—thereby generating jobs for local workers and as behavior changes in response to ideas from abroad. Women, in particular, may be liberated from traditional roles. 

However, over the longer term, the flow of ideas from human movement can have far-reaching effects on social norms and class structures across a whole country. The outflow of skills is sometimes seen as negative, particularly for the delivery of services such as education or health. Eeven in this the case, the best response is policies that address underlying structural problems such as low pay, inadequate financing and weak institutions. 

However, international migration, even if well managed, does not amount to a national human development strategy. Migration is at best an avenue that complements broader local and national efforts to reduce poverty and improve human development. 

International cooperation especially through bilateral or regional agreements can lead to better migration management, improved protection of migrants' rights and enhanced contributions of migrants to both origin and destination countries. Some regions are creating free movement zones to promote freer trade while enhancing the benefits of migration such as West Africa and the Southern Cone of Latin America. 

The expanded labor markets created in these regions can deliver substantial benefits to migrants, their families and their communities. Governments should create a new global regime by reducing restrictions on movement within and across their borders, so as to expand human choices and freedoms.
shared by Nisheeta Mirchandani
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