International migration is population movements

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.


International migration is population movements between countries resulting in change of place of usual residence of the population. It influences not only the demographic characteristics of receiving and sending countries, but also has economic, but predominantly social implications. Several theories have been developed to treat international patterns of migration on their own terms, but these too are variants of push-pull theory. Push factors refer primarily to the motive for emigration from the country of origin. In the case of economic migration, usually labour migration, as explained above, the differentials in wage rates are prominent, that is, if the value of wages in the new country surpasses the value of wages in one's native country, one may choose to migrate as long as the travel costs are not too high. Poor individuals from less developed countries can have far higher standards of living in developed countries than in their originating countries. Escape from poverty is a traditional push factor, the availability of jobs is the related pull factor.

This kind of migration may be illegal immigration in the destination country. Firstly, the neoclassical economic theory, developed by Sjaastad in 1962 and Todaro in 1969, suggests that international migration is related to the global supply and demand for labor. Nations with scarce labor supply and high demand will have high wages that pull immigrants in from nations with a surplus of labor. Secondly, the segmented labor-market theory developed by Piore in 1979 argues that First World economies are structured so as to require a certain level of immigration. This theory suggests that developed economies are dualistic, that they have a primary market of secure, well-remunerated work and a secondary market of low-wage work. Segmented labor-market theory argues that immigrants are recruited to fill these jobs that are necessary for the overall economy to function but are avoided by the native-born population because of the poor working conditions associated with the secondary labor market. Moreover, migration is sometimes mandatory in a contract of employment, for instance, employees of transnational corporations, international non-governmental organizations and the diplomatic service expect, by definition, to work overseas. They are often referred to as expatriates, and their conditions of employment are typically equal to or better than those applying in the host country for similar work.

Source: 1. Perspectives on Labour Migration. Policy responses to skilled migration: Retention, return and circulation- Piyasiri Wickramasekara, 2003

2. Theory on Migration - International Workshop Indicators of Integration in Social Statistics

Montreal, Canada, 10-11 December 2007

Organized by the IUSSP Scientific Panel on the Integration of Migrants and the Institut

National d'Etudes Demographiques (INED), with the support of the Quebec Inter-

University Centre for Social Statistics (QICSS) -

The Concept Of Migrant Labour

Indeed migrant labour is a key feature of globalization, and makes a significant impact on the world economy. Every year, migrant workers send home the equivalent of US$100 billion in remittances to support families and communities, while making social security contributions in host countries. Today's migrants face many challenges, including mistreatment and discrimination. Migrant workers are increasingly in demand, not only for high-skilled information technology and professional jobs, but also for many of the low-paid, less skilled jobs in agriculture, cleaning and maintenance, construction, domestic service, health care and the “sex sector”. Migrants are often relegated to the “three D” dirty, dangerous, and degrading, most of the time, jobs that national workers reject or are not available for. Many migrants are in precarious and unprotected work in the growing informal economy. But appropriate labour migration can also contribute to development in these countries through worker remittances and the transfer of skills through returning migrants. The freedom to move geographically, transfer jobs and change employers facilitates economic development and is essential to ensuring the most productive use of labour. Governments are, however, increasingly erecting barriers between willing migrants and strong demand for foreign labour in host countries making it highly profitable in many cases to illegally avoid those barriers. One result has been a dramatic rise in human trafficking. As it is, migration policies that are not established on a respect for human rights can exact high costs on individual migrants and their home societies. There is evidence that 10% to 15% of migration today involves undocumented women and men who enter or work in a host country without authorization. Irregular migration leads to high levels of exploitation, forced labour, and abuse of human rights and dignity.

The Global Growth Of Labour Migration

The migration of workers from developing countries to the industrialized countries has been on the rise for the last few decades; however, in 1998 migrants still represented no more than 4.2 % of the industrialized countries' total workforce. The United States absorbed the bulk of the increase, more than 81 % of the new migrants from developing countries, while Canada and Australia accounted for another 11 per cent. In the European Union, migrants were also heavily concentrated in four countries; namely in France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom. Throughout the 1990s the number of those coming

from developing countries grew significantly faster than those originating from other countries, so that by 1998 they had become the bigger group, representing some 57.8 per cent of all migrant workers in the organization's member countries. Close to half of all reported migrants move from one developing country to another. Indeed, considerable migration for employment takes place between and among countries where differentials in wages are not very large.

Foreign Migrant Workers In The EPZ Sector Mauritius

During the garment industry's peak, whereby most of Mauritius' garment production occurs in Export Processing Zones, the EPZs, the country faced a shortage of labour. Companies began to "import" workers from other countries to be able to fully exploit the production possibilities in Mauritius. Workers were employed mainly from China, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Madagascar. Almost three-quarters of the migrant workers are women and almost half of the women are married and have children. Foreign workers decide to come to Mauritius foremost for economic reasons; they were attracted by the opportunity to earn high wages. The table below illustrates the number of foreign labour in the country and the figure

Source: the…/a-look-at-the-textile-industry-in - Mauritius/.

Source: Annual Digest of Statistics (various issues)

On the other hand Table 2 shows the number of migrant workers which are concentrated in certain specific sectors as revealed by statistics compiled by the Central Statistical Office CSO. As illustrated, there is a higher concentration of migrant workers in the the EPZ sector among all the economic sectors in the country.

Source: Annual Digest of Statistics (various issues)

Employment Of Foreign Migrant Workers In The Textile Sector

In August and September 2001 the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations, the SOMO, located in the Netherlands, carried out research on the garment industry in Mauritius. This report is based on interviews with workers, management, governmental institutions and labour inspectors. In the report, it is declared that in the textile sector, where there is a high concentration of foreign workers. The managers interviewed by a Consultant frankly revealed this preference, which they attribute to the higher level of work output delivered by expatriate workers. The notion of higher productivity does not

precisely depict the true realities. Their work output, when averaged over a longer period tends to fall because they intentionally refuse to work for long hours. They usually attempt to keep aside enough time for their leisure and family-related activities

Even though the employment rate has decreased since the booming years, factories have not stopped searching for workers outside of Mauritius, since foreign workers were seen as more docile than their Mauritian counterparts. "You can't expect local people to work in the same conditions as foreigners do here" according to the manager of a denim producing factory. The managers we interviewed mentioned that the expatriate workers willingly worked long hours without any problems and that they do not ask for holidays and sick leave. Managers also praised the skill and speed of foreign workers, preferring them to local workers, who, with their social and family obligations seem to work and therefore produce less. It seems that for management, the ideal situation would be a workforce that was available 24 hours a day.

Most of the expatriate workers in Mauritius are employed in the garment and textile sector. Of the 15531 work permits issued for foreigners in 2000, 13451, that is 87% were in the garment and textile sector. Of these only slightly more than 1% is in management and supervision positions.

While managers are eager to exploit the labour of expatriate workers, their presence in Mauritius has bred resentment among the local population. Especially since working hours and as a result, income has decreased with the decline in orders; local workers feel that their interests are not being taken into account. Often, if there is overtime to be done, it will be assigned to the expatriate workers.


Foreign Migrant Workers' Living Conditions

Whilst some expatriate workers reported that they were doing a lot of overwork, other expatriate workers complained about not being able to work enough overtime to earn what they expected to earn when heading for Mauritius. Because of protests from the side of the trade unions about the growing unemployment and their demand that priority should be given to Mauritian workers first, the government seems willing to take measures to discourage companies from employing expatriate workers.

Workers' Salaries

Remuneration also differs. Workers are recruited through agencies in the different countries where they come from. Workers from China, India and Bangladesh complained about the differences in payment between what has been promised by the agencies and what was actually paid by the factories. The workers had to pay a fee so as to be able to get a job in Mauritius. Most of the workers took out loans to pay this fee. Some workers take on additional jobs at night to earn extra money, in restaurants or even as prostitutes.

Overall, the salaries for foreign workers are lower than expected. One worker that was interviewed said he had to pay US$ 817 to get a job in Mauritius. Another worker had to pay US$ 2511 to a Bangladeshi agency. They both work for a factory that has been on the verge of bankruptcy. At the moment of the interview, they were not sure whether the factory would close. When coming to Mauritius, they were told that they were going to earn about 12000 to 15000 Mauritian Rupees, which is 400 to 500 US dollars while in reality they can only make, even with a lot of overtime, 5000 Mauritian rupees per month, in other words, 167 US dollars. As for Bangladeshi workers, employment permit is valid only for one year. So, even after paying everything he earns to the bank, he will not succeed in paying off the loan that brought him here.

Some factories pay the basic salary directly to the agency or the family in the workers' home country, leaving the workers themselves with only their overtime wages in Mauritius. When there is no overtime they do not get any money at all. Last year several factories closed down which caused additional problems for the expatriate workers. As most took out loans to be able to come to Mauritius they are not at all too happy to return home without enough money. They had to wait to be transported home and don't get any money in the meantime. During the research we saw Chinese workers selling their personal belongings as to be able to get some money to buy food.


Living Circumstances

Living conditions are even worse. Foreign workers live packed in dormitories, with 4 or more in one small room. Some of the dormitories are on the top floors of factory buildings. Several workers said that they had a curfew, and could not leave the building after a certain hour. They are not allowed to join unions nor engage in any union activities for fear of being deported and repatriated. One of the labour officers interviewed mentioned that the contracts often don't mention the terms of employment and that there are often problems with payment.

Cases have been occasionally reported in the press of ill treatment of migrant workers by their Mauritian employers. The local trade unions have often ventured to express their dissatisfaction over the lack of proper treatment of workers who have not the right to unionize to negotiate with the employers. Thus, the bad publicity often ventilated openly in the press, is bound to tarnish the image of the country, revealing its incapacity to protect the basic rights of foreign workers on its soil.

Social Problems

Workers from certain countries, particularly China, face language problems which renders difficult their integration in their work place and the broader society. The language barrier, coupled with unsuitable accommodation conditions, often creates a sense of alienation among these workers. The Consultant reports that this disconnection from Mauritian society becomes the root cause of tensions often reported in the press. It is also reported that the inspectorate section of the Ministry of Labour usually reacts rapidly wherever foreign workers are exposed to any form of discrimination or ill treatment at their work place or residential quarters.


The International Labour Organisation's (ILO's) Measures And Policies

The International Labour Organisation, the ILO, ideology and training encouraged the Mauritius Ministry of Labour and Industry to set up a “Special Expatriate Squad” to supervise all aspects of employment of foreign workers. Specialized labour inspectors with ILO training, interpreters and legal officers maintain direct contact with migrant workers and employers. The team examines all contracts to ensure that workers have decent working and living conditions and it manages between various relevant ministries. Interventions by this unit have resolved several conflicts through dialogue involving migrant workers, employers and representatives of home countries. For example, misunderstandings regarding conditions of housing and work in Mauritius hurried a spontaneous walkout from several textile plants by Chinese workers in March 2002. Arbitration by Squad members backed by the Mauritius Minister of Labour resolved the dispute, preventing a strike and diplomatic pressures.

In fact, the ILO works for safe and constructive migration in three main areas; namely; in building the knowledge base to address migration in the age of globalization whereby key research themes concern the costs and consequences of “brain drain”, the impact and productive uses of remittances, conditions of work for migrant workers, in measuring discrimination and finding remedies to it, and exploring effective ways of ending human trafficking. The ILO is expanding its online International Labour Migration (ILM) database to provide current data on migrant worker flows and characteristics; currently some 80 countries provide data. Secondly, in enhancing good governance of international labour migration, by developing policy with governments, employers and trade unions at conferences and regional seminars and through direct cooperation. Trade unions used as representatives of the work force and employers are key partners in making viable policy and administration on labour migration. Other ILO activities include providing technical advice to governments and training officials of government agencies and employer and worker organizations. And finally in advancing human rights and decent work for migrants, by promoting the adoption and implementation of international norms. The ILO also encourages anti-discrimination activities by governments and workers' and employers' groups. It promotes actions that benefit high-risk groups, such as victims of trafficking and migrant domestic workers, and encourages labour inspection to enforce minimum decent work conditions in sectors where migrants are vulnerable to abuse.

Source: Facts on Migrant Labour -


It is an undeniable fact that Mauritius' booming textiles industry has to depend more and more heavily on imported labour, mostly from India and China. Foreign workers in Mauritius now number some 22,000, comprising the men and women who make machines work in the textile industry in Mauritius. However, life is not a bed of roses and there are reports that a great deal of confusion surrounds their working conditions and accommodation. While some of the factories manage the problems of integration and adaptation of the foreign workers very well, others are blamed frequently by the authorities, though, conclusions about the pace and nature of immigrant integration and incorporation remain indefinable because little work has been done on conceptualizing and measuring systematically key dimensions of these policy relevant facts. In these senses, it is possible to speak of immigrant integration occurring without without full incorporation. This opinion is shared by many employers who see the Chinese and Indians as saviors of the textile industry in Mauritius. Evidently, The global challenge today is to create the policies and the means to regulate and manage migration and ensure that it contributes positively to development of both home and host societies and to the well being of migrants themselves as barriers to immigration come not only in legal form; natural and social barriers to immigration can also be very powerful. Immigrants when leaving their country also leave everything familiar: their family, friends, support network, and culture. However, when they arrive in a new country, most immigrants face adaptation and integration problems, in the form of uncertainties including new laws, new cultural norms, language or accent issues, possible racism and other exclusionary behavior towards them. Thus, measures and policies should be founded on the ground of the human rights.

Source: Chinese workers in clothing industry -



Perspectives on Labour Migration. Policy responses to skilled migration: Retention, return and circulation- Piyasiri Wickramasekara, 2003

Temporary foreign worker programmes: policies, adverse consequences and the need to make them work- Martin Ruhs, 2003 - View Pdf

Immigrants' and Refugees' Challenges in Africa - By Undule DK Mwakasungula - View Pdf


Employment of Foreign Workers in Mauritius -

A look at the textile industry in Mauritius - the…/a-look-at-the-textile-industry-in - Mauritius/.

Chinese workers in clothing industry -

Productivity in the Mauritian Textile & Apparel Sector -

Theory on Migration - International Workshop Indicators of Integration in Social Statistics

Montreal, Canada, 10-11 December 2007

Organized by the IUSSP Scientific Panel on the Integration of Migrants and the Institut

National d'Etudes Demographiques (INED), with the support of the Quebec Inter-

University Centre for Social Statistics (QICSS) -

Facts on Migrant Labour -