The International Labour Migration Economics Essay

1792 words (7 pages) Essay in Economics

5/12/16 Economics Reference this

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There has been considerable debate about the effect of increased labour migration from developing countries to developed nations. Many commentators have argued that such increase in migration is informed by economic factors and that those who migrate from developing countries drain the human capital resources of sending nations which in the long run, negatively affects their economy. On the other hand, other scholars believe that migration helps the economy of developing countries as the incomes they receive by way of remittances contribute significantly to reducing poverty and their gross domestic product [GDP] Moin Siddiqi, 2008].

People migrate for various reasons, which may be as a result of civil wars, unemployment, changes due to the environment, or to improve their standard of living. “Sociologists on the other hand, have long analysed migration in terms of the “push” -“pull” models” (A project of the Levin Institute, n.d, p.8.) The model differentiates between “push” factors that drive people to leave their home countries from “pull” factors that attract migrants to other countries or new locations. Migration has always been a dominating fact of our everyday life [Kathleen Beegle and Carlo Azzarri 2004] and mankind has always lived with it even in biblical times. For example, Jacob, the father of Joseph and members of his family left Cannaan for Egypt because of severe famine that swept through the middle-east belt where they lived at that time [The Bible, Genesis: 45].

ii] Outline of the paper

In discussing the reasons for migration, the essay will first and foremost attempt to define migration and why it happens by examining “push” and “pull” factors which sociologists refer to as the main reasons for migration and their effect on sending nations. The essay will further discuss the empirical effects of migration on “sending” nations during the last 20 years.

iii] Organisation of the essay

The essay will be organized around four sections namely:

What is migration?

Why does it happen?

Empirical effects of migration on “sending” countries.


Section 1

1.0 What is migration?

Migration is the movement of persons from one country or location to another. Migration is common to all living creatures and it is often done for survival and economic reasons by those seeking to migrate. For example, some birds migrate according to W. Alice Boyle and Courtney J. Conway in the report of their research findings, explained that “it is not just whether you eat insects, termites, nectar or candy bars or where you eat them, it matters how reliable that food source is from day to day”. In the case of humans, the World Bank estimates that there are currently 200 million people living in countries where they were not born [Russel, nd] The global mobility of skilled workers has increased in recent years according to the report due to the expansion of the knowledge economy, the progressive globalization of markets and companies, the growing demand for scarce skills and wider political and economic issues. This increase in global mobility is a practical reality of the inter-independence that affects us all and is not necessarily a problem except where critical skills needed by source countries are lost and are not readily replaced; a brain drain [Myburgh, 2002].

1.1 Migration Barriers

Migrations come in legal and illegal forms and “while countries seek and promote integrated markets through liberalization of trade and investment, they have largely resisted liberalizing migration policies. Many countries have extensive legal barriers preventing foreigners from entering for purposes of seeking work or residency according to World Bank in its report ‘Globalisation, Growth, and Poverty’. In fact, immigration policies across the world are getting tighter as governments attempt to limit the economic, cultural and security impact of large movement of people from one country to another. Despite the reluctance of governments to liberalise immigration policy, the number of people living outside their country of origin is rising”. (A project of the Levin Institute, n.d, p.2). According to the 2010 United Nation’s Human Development Report, migrants account for approximately 3.1 percent of the world population [as of 2010].

Section 2

2.0 Why people migrate

“A poll conducted by Gallup Polls across 82 countries revealed that more than one in four participants displayed a desire to move abroad. The figure when put together, represents a median of about 26 percent. In certain countries, such as Sierra Leone, Ghana and Nigeria, more than half of participants surveyed said they wanted to emigrate. On the lower end, participants in Thailand [8%], Australia [8%], and Saudi Arabia [1%] displayed nearly no desire to emigrate” [A project of the Levin Institute, n.d, p.2].

People migrate for various reasons, bringing back what I said earlier when I mentioned a few reasons, which may be as a result of civil wars, unemployment, environmental or climatic changes or to improve their standard of living. The major two reasons encouraging an individual to migrate can be divided into “push” or “pull” factors. The former refers to circumstances which encourage migrants to leave the country of origin while the latter refers to the attraction that make migrants leave for a particular destination country because of the special skills and technical training the migrant possesses which the developed country may be lacking in quantity [Gbemiga Bamidele, 2001 check date].

2.1 Push Factors

Push factors come in many forms. Sometimes these factors leave people with no choice but to leave their country of origin. Following are three examples of push factors that drive people to emigrate from their home country.

a] Unemployment/Poverty: Economics provides the main reason behind migration. In fact, according to the International Labour Organization, about half of the total population of current migrants, 100 million women and men migrant workers, have left home to find better job and lifestyle opportunities for their families. In some countries jobs simply do not exist for a great deal of the population. In others, the gap between the rewards of labor in the sending and receiving country are great enough so as to warrant a move. The unemployment situation in developing countries is a big problem to youths who have left schools waiting to be engaged in the labour market and the various governments who find it difficult to find a solution to it.

In Morocco for example, unemployment which represented less than 17% of the economic causes of emigration before 1960, far behind the search for a more lucrative work [50%] or the improvement of the living standard [25%] became the principal economic cause of emigration in the 90s. According to the data collected by Hamdrouch [2000], 41% of answers ? indicate unemployment as the first cause of emigration whereas the search for a more lucrative work and the improvement of the standard of living represent 38% and 14% respectively as the reasons for emigration [Fida Karam, Bernard Decaluwe, 2007].

In Kenya, it is reported that people are unable to contribute to the economic growth, not because they are weak, but because they are unable due to lack of jobs. Those who are qualified, willing and dedicated are unable to secure themselves a job. Another reason for unemployment is the low education level of a large percentage of the population. Because they lack the technical knowledge and cannot specialize in carrying out roles in factories they, for example, are unable to secure a job. Another is the high population growth rate which also is a major factor that has made Kenya not to secure jobs because of the high competition and fewer jobs [Patrick Kioko Katli, 2000….?].

In Nigeria, the two decades of economic stagnation and micro-economic instability, corruption and poor resource management, most Nigerians especially young people consider migration as a panacea to economic problems. In recent years, there has been unprecedented rate of rural-urban migration and emigration into other countries of Africa, Europe and America. For example, due to migration and subsequent urban growth, Lagos a city in Nigeria, which did not appear in the list of fifteen largest cities in 1950, occupied the fifteenth position in 1955 and is expected to jump to number three position in 2015 with over 24 million inhabitants [Toredo, 1997]. As regards movement outside Nigeria, there has been a remarkable increase in emigration to Europe, North America, the Middle East and South Africa from the 1980s following economic down-turn, introduction of liberalisation measures and emergence of repressive military dictatorship [Adedokun, 2003]. Thousands of professionals, especially scientists, academics, and those in the medical fields have emigrated mainly to Western Europe, the United States of America and the Persian Gulf States. At the same time, unskilled Nigerians with little education have gone abroad to work as street cleaners, security guards, taxi drivers and factory hands. In Southern Nigeria, for example, between 50 and 80 percent of households have at least one migrant member [Bah et al, 2003]. Migration is considered essential to achieving success and young men who do not migrate or commute to town or abroad are often labelled as idle and may become object of ridicule.

India has recently experienced a surge in emigration due to a combination of these factors. India’s unemployed have never been properly estimated, but they could total 100 million, with a further annual job loss rate of around 10 million as the global recession continues to take its toll on the Indian economy. [Globalisation]. The number of skilled workers coming out of Indian universities has never been higher. Meanwhile, the number of domestic jobs available to them is minimal. Only about 0.7m jobs a year have been created in the past few years, most of them in the public sector. This will not keep skilled workers in the country. Many instead go to the United States, where their skills and their lower wage demands are sought after by high-tech companies. In fact, about 40 percent of recent immigrants from India to the U.S. have been accepted due to employment based preferences, thus showing the high degree of American corporation’s demand for Indian skilled labor. As the population grows at 20 million per year, and more and more students graduate from technical universities, India may experience a great deal more emigration.

b] Civil Strife/ War/ Political and Religious Persecution

People also migrate to avoid civil strife, war, political and religious persecution in their own country. For example, when there was widespread political unrest in Albania which eventually led to war in 1999, there was mass exodus of people from the country, which by 2001 had led to one sixth, possibly even one fifth of the country’s population leaving abroad. Initially, people left by sea to Italy and move to other European destinations, including the UK. [Eugenia Markova…….]

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