This policy brief, which concludes a nine-brief series examining what is known about the linkages between migration and development, suggests that the policy framework on migration and development remains relatively weak, and few development agencies have made it a priority to promote the positive impact of international migration.
More than ever, human capital is seen as the ultimate resource. As a result, policymakers face the challenge of ensuring that workers have the skills and abilities to find productive employment and contribute to growth, innovation, and competitiveness in constantly evolving labor markets. Migrants’ skills are often seen as an untapped resource that, with the right formula of policies, can bolster competitiveness and fuel productivity.
The Mexican-origin community in Hawaiʻi, which represents a small but growing population in this multi-ethnic state, has different outcomes than Mexican immigrants and U.S. citizens of Mexican ancestry who live in the continental U.S. Its Mexican-origin residents have higher employment, reduced poverty, more English proficiency, and lower incidences of unauthorized status than their counterparts on the U.S. continent.
Skilled migration is often thought to have overwhelmingly negative effects on countries of migrant origin. Yet recent research and policy experience challenge this assumption and offer a more nuanced picture, as this brief explains. Countries of origin and destination can in fact benefit from skilled migration when it is correctly structured, and efforts to restrict skilled nationals’ ability to leave their countries of origin may have unintended costs, in addition to being ethically problematic.
Economic and demographic disparities will shape the mobility of labor and skills during the 21st century. The populations of richer societies are aging rapidly, while working-age populations continue to grow in some emerging economies and most low-income countries. Despite these trends, many countries continue to assume that today’s demographic realities will persist. This policy brief describes how the current geography of migration is changing, and offers recommendations for policymakers.
Diasporas can play an important role in the economic development of their countries of origin or ancestry. Beyond their well-known role as senders of remittances, diasporas also can promote trade and foreign direct investment, create businesses, spur entrepreneurship, and transfer new knowledge and skills. Policymakers increasingly recognize that an engaged diaspora can be an asset — or even a counterweight to the emigration of skilled and talented migrants.
Private recruitment agencies orchestrate much of the migration process, from predeparture to return. They provide information, assistance, and even financial support to migrants; facilitate transit to and from the destination; and in some cases employ migrants directly. While recruitment agencies protect migrants, sometimes removing them from abusive workplaces or even organizing repatriation, migrants’ dependence on them for so many services also creates many opportunities for exploitation and abuse. This brief assesses the forms of regulation that are being proposed and enacted to oversee recruitment agencies and identifies several areas for further improvement.
Remittances represent a major vehicle for reducing the scale and severity of poverty in the developing world. Besides pure monetary gains, remittances are associated with greater human development outcomes across a number of areas, including health, education, and gender equality. The author argues that policymakers can maximize the positive impact of remittances by making them less costly and more productive for both the individual and the country of origin.
More than ever before, human capital is recognized as the one resource that can propel firms and economies to the top tier of competitiveness. With substantial increases in the supply and demand for skilled workers, governments will have to think carefully about how they engage with the global talent pool, and how they can select most effectively from it.
Circular migration has typically been viewed with skepticism by migrant-rights advocates and wary publics alike. But many experts and policymakers in the migration field — and some in development — have come to recognize that well-managed circulation that is respectful of migrants' human and labor rights can bring benefits to countries of origin and destination, as well as to migrants themselves. For countries of origin, circular migration can relieve labor surpluses; for destination countries, it can provide the flexibility to quickly overcome skills shortages while adapting to long-term labor market shifts. For migrants, circular migration offers the opportunity to earn higher wages and gain international experience.