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Africa: Migration & Human Development
Apr 22, 2011 (110422)
(Reposted from sources cited below)
"The entry policies that have prevailed in many destination
countries over recent decades can be largely characterized by
denial and delay on the one hand, and heightened border
controls and illegal stays on the other. This has worsened the
situation of people lacking legal status and, especially
during the recession, has created uncertainty and frustration
among the wider population." - Human Development Report 2009
The 2009 Human Development Report, on Human Mobility and
Development, has gained little attention in the current
political atmosphere of rising anti-immigrant sentiment in
Europe, the United States, and elsewhere. But its common-sense
alternative proposals for crafting solutions that respect the
rights of migrants as well as the needs of origin and
destination countries deserve a higher profile, particularly
as the debate is increasingly tinged by hysteria and
exaggerated "threats of invasion."
This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains excerpts from Chapter 5 of
the report summarizing its policy proposals. The full text of
this chapter and the full report, with charts and footnotes,
as well as statistical data for viewing or downloading, are
available at http://hdr.undp.org/en/reports/global/hdr2009/
Another AfricaFocus Bulletin sent out today by e-mail, and
available on the web at http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/migr1104a.php, has several
updates and commentaries on the situation of migrants seeking
to leave Libya, as well as the widespread exaggerations about
its impact on Europe. That Bulletin also contains the
statement from September, 2010 of the Global Migration Group,
focused on the human rights of migrants in irregular
For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on migration issues, visit
++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++
Human Development Report 2009
Overcoming Barriers: Human Mobility and Development
[Excerpts from Chapter 5. Full chapter, full report, and
statistical data available at
5. Policies to enhance human development outcomes
This final chapter proposes reforms that will allow mobility
to contribute to a fuller enhancement of people's freedoms. At
present, many people who move have at best only precarious
rights and face uncertain futures. The policy mismatch between
restrictive entry and high labour demand for low-skilled
workers needs to be addressed. We propose a core package of
reforms that will improve outcomes for individual movers and
their families, their origin communities and host places. The
design, timing and acceptability of reforms depend on a
realistic appraisal of economic and social conditions and a
recognition of public opinion and political constraints.
The foregoing analysis has shown that large gains to human
development would flow from improved policies towards movers.
These would benefit all groups affected by migration. A bold
vision is needed to realize these gains-a vision that embraces
reform because of its potential pay-offs, while recognizing
the underlying challenges and constraints.
We have also shown that the entry policies that have prevailed
in many destination countries over recent decades can be
largely characterized by denial and delay on the one hand, and
heightened border controls and illegal stays on the other.
This has worsened the situation of people lacking legal status
and, especially during the recession, has created uncertainty
and frustration among the wider population.
The factors driving migration-including disparate
opportunities and rapid demographic transitions-are expected
to persist in the coming decades. Lopsided demographic
patterns mean that nine tenths of the growth in the world's
labour force since 1950 has been in developing countries,
while developed countries are aging. These trends create
pressures for people to move, but the regular channels
allowing movement for low-skilled people are very restricted.
Demographic projections to the year 2050 predict that these
trends will continue, even if the demand for labour has been
temporarily attenuated by the current economic crisis. This
implies a need to rethink the policy of restricting the entry
of low-skilled workers, which ill accords with the underlying
demand for such workers. This chapter tackles the major
challenge of how governments can prepare for the resumption of
growth, with its underlying structural trends.
Our proposal consists of a core package of reforms with
medium- to long-term pay-offs. The package consists of six
'pillars'. Each pillar is beneficial on its own, but together
they offer the best chance of maximizing the human development
impacts of migration:
- Liberalizing and simplifying regular channels that allow
people to seek work abroad;
- Ensuring basic rights for migrants;
- Reducing transaction costs associated with migration;
- Improving outcomes for migrants and destination
- Enabling benefits from internal mobility; and
- Making mobility an integral part of national development
Our proposal involves new processes and norms to govern
migration, but does not prescribe any particular levels of
increased admissions, since these need to be determined at the
Our agenda is largely oriented towards the longer-term reforms
needed to enhance the gains from movement, while recognizing
the major challenges in the short term. In the midst of what
is shaping up to be the worst economic crisis since the Great
Depression, unemployment is rising to record highs in many
countries. As a result, many migrants find themselves doubly
at risk: suffering unemployment, insecurity and social
marginalization, yet at the same time often portrayed as the
source of these problems. ...
Open dialogue is critical if progress is to be made in the
public debate about migration. In this debate, the benefits
should not be overplayed and the concerns about distributional
effects-especially among low-skilled workers-need to be
recognized and taken into account. The political economy of
reform is directly addressed below.
Because this is a global report with diverse stakeholdersgovernments
in origin, destination and transit countries;
donors and international organizations; the private sector;
and civil society, including migrant groups and diaspora
associations, academia and the media-the policy directions we
outline are inevitably pitched at a general level. Our
intention is to stimulate debate and follow-up in discussing,
adapting and implementing these recommendations. At the
country level, much more detailed analysis will be needed to
ensure relevance to local circumstances and allow for
political realities and practical constraints.
5.1 The core package
We will now explore the policy entry points outlined above.
...In defining a priority agenda we have been motivated by a
focus on the disadvantaged, a realistic consideration of the
political constraints and an awareness that trade-offs are
5.1.1 Liberalizing and simplifying regular channels
Overly restrictive barriers to entry prevent many people from
moving and mean that millions who do move have irregular
status-an estimated one quarter of the total. This has created
uncertainty and frustration, both in the migrant community and
among the wider population, especially during the current
When growth resumes, the demand for migrant labour will
likewise rebound, since the demographic and economic
conditions that created that demand in the first place will
still be in place. The need for working-age people in
developed countries has been largely structural, and is longterm
-not temporary-in nature. This is true even for highturnover
jobs in such sectors as care, construction, tourism
and food processing. If the demand for labour is long-term,
then, from the perspective of both migrants and their
destination communities and societies, it is better to allow
people to come legally. And provided migrants can find and
keep jobs, it is better to offer them the option of extending
their stay than to limit them to temporary permits. The longer
people stay abroad, the greater the social and economic
mobility they and their children are likely to enjoy. When the
presence of migrants is denied or ignored by host governments,
the risk of segmentation is greatly increased, not only in the
labour market and economy but also in society more generally.
This is one lesson that emerged clearly from the German guestworker
experience. We see it again today, in destinations as
diverse as the GCC states, the Russian Federation, Singapore,
South Africa and Thailand.
So what would a liberalization and simplification of migration
channels look like? There are two broad avenues where reform
appears both desirable and feasible: seasonal or circular
programmes, and entry for unskilled people, with conditional
paths to extension. The difficult issue of what to do about
people with irregular status is a third area in which various
options for change are possible and should be considered. ...
As high-skilled people are already welcomed in most countries,
reforms need to focus on the movement of people without
The first avenue, already explored by a number of countries,
is to expand schemes for truly seasonal work in sectors such
as agriculture and tourism. Key elements when planning and
implementing reforms include consultation with source country
governments, union and employer involvement, basic wage
guarantees, health and safety protection, and provision for
repeat visits. These elements are the basis for schemes that
have been successfully operating for decades in Canada, for
example, and have more recently been introduced in New
The second avenue, which involves more fundamental reforms, is
to expand the number of visas for low-skilled peopleconditional
on employer demand. As is currently the case, the
visas can initially be temporary. Issuance can be made
conditional on a job offer, or at least experience of, or
willingness to work in, a sector that is known to face labour
Expanding regular entry channels involves taking decisions on
the following key issues:
Setting annual inflow numbers. These must be responsive to
local conditions and there are several ways of ensuring this.
Numbers can be based on employer demand-such that an
individual is required to have a job offer prior to arrival-or
on the recommendations of a technical committee or similar
body that considers projections of demand and submissions from
unions, employers and community groups. ... The disadvantages
of requiring a job offer are that the decision is effectively
delegated to individual employers, transaction costs for
individual migrants may be higher, and portability can become
an issue. Caution should be exercised in relation to
employers' stated 'needs' for migrants. ... Employers should
not use migrant labour as a stratagem for evading their legal
obligations to provide basic health and safety protection and
to guarantee minimum standards in working conditions, which
should be accorded to all workers, regardless of origin.
Employer portability. Tying people to specific employers
prevents them from finding better opportunities and is
therefore both economically inefficient and socially
undesirable. Our policy assessment found that governments
typically allow employment portability for permanent highskilled
migrants, but not for temporary low-skilled workers.
However, there are signs of change. ... An employer who has
gone abroad to recruit will typically seek some period of nonportability
-but even in these cases there are ways of building
in a degree of flexibility: for example, allowing the migrant
or another employer who wants to employ her to pay a fee
reimbursing the original employer for recruitment costs.
Right to apply for extension and pathways to permanence. This
will be at the discretion of the host government and, as at
present, is usually subject to a set of specific conditions.
Nevertheless, extension of temporary permits is possible in
many developed countries (e.g. Canada, Portugal, Sweden,
United Kingdom and United States), and some developing
countries (e.g. Ecuador and Malaysia). ...
Provisions to facilitate circularity. The freedom to move back
and forth between host and source country can enhance benefits
for migrants and their origin countries. Again, this can be
subject to discretion or to certain conditions. Portability of
accumulated social security benefits is a further advantage
that can encourage circularity.
The issue of irregular status inevitably crops up in almost
any discussion of immigration. Various approaches have been
used by governments to address the issue. Amnesty schemes are
announced and remain open for a finite period-these have been
used in various European countries as well as in Latin
America. Ongoing administrative mechanisms may grant some type
of legal status on a discretionary basis-for example, on the
basis of family ties, as is possible in the United States.
Forced returns to the country of origin have also been
pursued. None of these measures is uncontroversial. ...
So-called 'earned regularizations', as tried in a number of
countries, may be the most viable way forward. These provide
irregular migrants with a provisional permit to live and work
in the host country, initially for a finite period, which can
be extended or made permanent through the fulfilment of
various criteria, such as language acquisition, maintaining
stable employment and paying taxes. There is no initial
amnesty but rather a conditional permission to transit to full
residence status. This approach has the attraction of
potentially garnering broad public acceptance.
Box 5.2 Experience with regularization
Most European countries have operated some form of
regularization programme, albeit for a range of motives and,
in some cases, despite denying that regularization takes place
(Austria and Germany). A recent study estimated that in Europe
over 6 million people have applied to transit from irregular
to legal status over the decade to 2007, with an approval rate
of 80 percent. The numbers in each country vary hugely-Italy
having the highest (1.5 million), followed by Spain and
The varied European experience suggests that among the key
ingredients of successful regularizations are the involvement
of civil society organizations, migrant associations and
employers in planning and implementation; guarantee against
expulsion during the process; and clear qualifying criteria
(for example, length of residence, employment record and
family ties). Among the challenges faced in practice are long
delays. With locally administered schemes, as in France,
variable treatment across locations may be an issue.
Forced returns are especially controversial. Their number has
been rising sharply in some countries, surpassing 350,000 in
the United States and 300,000 in South Africa in 2008 alone.
Pushed enthusiastically by rich country governments, forced
returns also feature in the European Union's mobility
partnerships.9 Many origin states cooperate with destination
countries by signing readmission agreements, although some,
for example South Africa, have so far declined to sign.
What should humane enforcement policies look like? Most people
argue that there need to be some sanctions for breaches of
border control and work rules and that, alongside
discretionary regularization, forced returns have a place in
the policy armoury. But implementing this sanction raises
major challenges, especially in cases where the individuals
concerned have lived and worked in the country for many years
and may have family members who are legally resident. ...
It is clearly important that, where individuals with irregular
status are identified, enforcement procedures should follow
the rule of law and basic rights should be respected.
The recent European Union directive on the procedures for
return appears to be a step towards transparency and
harmonization of regulations, with an emphasis on standard
procedures either to expel people with irregular status or to
grant them definite legal status. The directive has, however,
been criticized as inadequate in guaranteeing respect for
5.1.2 Ensuring basic rights for migrants
This report has focused on mobility through the lens of
expanding freedoms. But not all migrants achieve all the
freedoms that migration promises. Depending on where they come
from and go to, people frequently find themselves having to
trade off one kind of freedom against another, most often in
order to access higher earnings by working in a country where
one or more fundamental human rights are not respected.
Migrants who lack resources, networks, information and avenues
of recourse are more likely to lose out in some dimensions, as
too are those who face racial or other forms of
discrimination. Major problems can arise for those without
legal status and for those in countries where governance and
accountability structures are weak.
Refugees are a distinct legal category of migrants by virtue
of their need for international protection. They have specific
rights, set out in the 1951 Refugee Convention and 1967
Protocols, which have been ratified by 144 states. These
agreements provide critical protection to those fleeing across
international borders to escape persecution.
More generally, the six core international human rights
treaties, which have been ratified by 131 countries around the
globe, all contain strong non-discrimination clauses ensuring
the applicability of many provisions to migrants. These
instruments are universal and apply to both citizens and noncitizens,
including those who have moved or presently stay,
whether their status is regular or irregular. Of particular
relevance are the rights to equality under the law and to be
free from discrimination on grounds of race, national origin
or other status. These are important legal constraints on
Recently, protocols against the trafficking and smuggling of
people have rapidly garnered broad support, building on
existing instruments with 129 ratifications. These protocols,
which seek to criminalize trafficking, focus more on
suppressing organized crime and facilitating orderly migration
than on advancing the human rights of the individuals (mainly
women) involved. ... Progress on this front is clearly
welcome, although some observers have noted that increasingly
harsh immigration policies have also tended to promote
trafficking and smuggling.
By way of contrast, the series of ILO conventions adopted
throughout the 20th century, which seek to promote minimum
standards for migrant workers, have not attracted wide
endorsement. The causes are several, including the scope and
comprehensiveness of the conventions versus the desire for
unfettered state discretion in such matters. In 1990, the UN
International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of
All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (CMW)
reiterated the core principles of the human rights treaties,
but also went further, for example in defining discrimination
more broadly, in providing stronger safeguards against
collective and arbitrary expulsion and in ensuring the right
of regular migrants to vote and be elected. However, there are
only 41 signatories to date, of which only five are net
immigration countries and none belong to the very high-HDI
Looking to examine the migration profiles of ratifying
countries, we found that most have immigration and emigration
rates below 10 percent. Among the countries where the share of
the population who are either migrants or emigrants exceeds 25
percent, the rates of signing are still low-only 3 out of 64
have signed up to the CMW ,,,
Countries that have not ratified the CMW are still obliged to
protect migrant workers, through other core human rights
Ensuring the rights of migrants has been a recurrent cry in
all global forums, as exemplified by the statements made by
civil society organizations at the 2008 Global Forum on
Migration and Development in Manila. Yet it is also clear that
the main challenge is not the lack of a legal framework for
the protection of rights-as a series of conventions, treaties
and customary law provisions already exist-but rather their
effective implementation. ...
Even if there is no appetite to sign up to formal conventions,
there is no sound reason for any government to deny such basic
migrant rights as the right to:
- Equal remuneration for equal work, decent working conditions
and protection of health and safety;
- Organize and bargain collectively;
- Not be subject to arbitrary detention, and be subject to due
process in the event of deportation;
-Not be subject to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment; and
-Return to countries of origin.
These should exist alongside basic human rights of liberty,
security of person, freedom of belief and protection against
forced labour and trafficking.
The prime responsibility for ensuring basic rights while
abroad lies with host governments. Attempts by source country
governments, such as India and the Philippines, to mandate
minimum wages paid to emigrants have typically failed due to
the lack of jurisdiction over this matter. Source country
governments can nonetheless provide support in terms of
advising about migrants' rights and responsibilities through
migrant resource centres and pre-departure orientation about
what to expect while abroad.
Consular services can play an important part in providing a
channel for complaints and possible recourse, while bilateral
agreements can establish key principles. However, a collective
and coordinated effort by countries of origin to raise
standards is more likely to be effective than isolated
Employers, unions, NGOs and migrant associations also have a
role. Employers are the main source of breaches of basic
rights-hence their behaviour is paramount. ...Among the
measures available to unions and NGOs are: informing migrants
about their rights, working more closely with employers and
government officials to ensure that these rights are
respected, unionizing migrant workers and advocating for
regularization. One active NGO, is the Collectif de d?fense
des travailleurs ?trangers dans l'agriculture (CODESTRAS),
which seeks to improve the situation of seasonal workers in
the South of France through awareness-raising, information,
dissemination and legal support.
The role of trade unions is particularly important. Over time,
unions have accorded greater attention to migrants' rights.
Last but not least, migrants themselves can affect the way
destination communities and societies perceive immigration.
Sometimes, negative public opinion partly reflects past
incidents of unlawful behaviour associated with migrants. By
supporting more inclusive societies and communities, where
everyone-including migrants-understands and respects the law
and pursues peaceful forms of participation and, if necessary,
protest, migrants can alleviate the risk of such negative
reactions. Civil society and local authorities can help by
supporting migrant networks and communities.
5.1.3 Reducing transaction costs associated with movement
Moving across borders inevitably involves transaction costs.
Distance complicates job matching, both within countries and,
more acutely, across national borders, because of information
gaps, language barriers and varying regulatory frameworks.
This creates a need for intermediation and facilitation
services. Given the magnitude of income differences between
low- and very high-HDI countries, it is not surprising that
there is a market for agents who can match individuals with
jobs abroad and help navigate the administrative restrictions
associated with international movement.
Under current migration regimes, the major cost is typically
the administrative requirement that a job offer be obtained
from a foreign employer before departure. Especially in Asia,
many migrant workers rely on commercial agents to organize the
offer and make all the practical arrangements. Most agents are
honest brokers and act through legal channels, but some lack
adequate information on the employers and/or the workers or
smuggle people through borders illegally.
This market for intermediation services can be problematic,
however. In the worst cases it can result in trafficking and
years of bondage, violent abuse and sometimes even death. A
much more common problem is high fees, especially for lowskilled
workers. Intermediation often generates surplus
profits for recruiters, due to the combination of restrictive
entry and high labour demand for low-skilled workers, who
frequently lack adequate information and have unequal
bargaining power. The costs also appear to be regressive,
rising as the level of skills falls, meaning that, for
example, few migrant nurses pay recruitment fees but most
domestic helpers do. ...
Governments can help to reduce transaction costs for migrant
workers in several ways. Six areas deserve priority
Opening corridors and introducing regimes that allow free
movement. Because of MERCOSUR, for example, Bolivian workers
can travel relatively freely to Argentina, as well as learn
about jobs and opportunities from friends and relatives
through deepening social networks. The same dynamic was
observed on an accelerated basis following European Union
enlargement in 2004. Another example is facilitated access for
seasonal workers across the Guatemala-Mexico border.
Reducing the cost of and easing access to official documents,
such as birth certificates and passports. Rationalizing 'paper
walls' in countries of origin is an important part of reducing
the barriers to legal migration. ...
Empowerment of migrants, through access to information, rights
of recourse abroad and stronger social networks.
The latter, in particular, can do much to plug the information
gap between migrant workers and employers, limiting the need
for costly recruitment agencies and enabling migrants to pick
and choose among a wider variety of employment opportunities.
Information centres, such as the pilot launched by the
European Union in Bamako, Mali in 2008, can provide potential
migrants with accurate (if disappointing!) information about
opportunities for work and study abroad.
Regulation of private recruiters to prevent abuses and fraud.
Prohibitions do not tend to work, in part because bans in
destination places do not apply to recruiters in source areas.
Yet some regulations can be effective, for example joint
liability between employers and recruiters, which can help to
avert fraud and deceit.
Direct administration of recruitment by public agencies.
In Guatemala, for example, the IOM administers a programme
that sends seasonal farm workers to Canada at no charge to the
worker. However there is debate about the appropriate role for
government agencies. In most poor countries, the capacity of
national employment agencies to match workers with suitable
jobs at home, let alone abroad, is very weak. ...
This can play an important role. The Colombo Process and the
Abu Dhabi Dialogue are two recent intergovernmental
initiatives designed to co-operatively address transactions
costs and other issues. This process, which took place for the
first time in January 2008, involved almost a dozen source and
several destination countries in the GCC states and South East
Asia, with the United Arab Emirates and IOM serving as the cohosts.
It focuses on developing key partnerships between
countries of origin and destination around the subject of
temporary contractual labour to, among other things, develop
and share knowledge on labour market trends, prevent illegal
recruitment, and promote welfare and protection measures for
contractual workers. ...
5.1.4 Improving outcomes for migrants and destination
While the weight of evidence shows that the aggregate economic
impact of migration in the long run is likely to be positive,
local people with specific skills or in certain locations may
experience adverse effects. To a large extent these can be
minimized and offset by policies and programmes that recognize
and plan for the presence of migrants, promoting inclusion and
ensuring that receiving communities are not unduly burdened.
It is important to recognize the actual and perceived costs of
immigration at the community level, and consider how these
might be shared.
Inclusion and integration are critical from a human
development perspective, since they have positive effects not
only for individual movers and their families but also for
receiving communities. The ways in which the status and rights
of immigrants are recognized and enforced will determine the
extent of such integration. In some developing countries,
support for integration could be an appropriate candidate for
Yet institutional and policy arrangements may often be more
important than targeted migrant integration policies. For
example, the quality of state schooling in poor neighbourhoods
is likely to be critical-and not only for migrants. Within
this broader context, the policy priorities for improving
outcomes for migrants and destination communities are as
Provide access to basic services-particularly schooling and
These services are not only critical to migrants and their
families, but also have broader positive externalities. Here
the key is equity of access and treatment. Our review suggests
that access is typically most restricted for temporary workers
and people with irregular status. Access to schooling should
be provided on the same basis and terms as for locally born
residents. The same applies for health care-both emergency
care in the case of accidents or severe illness and preventive
services such as vaccinations, which are typically also in the
best interests of the whole community and highly effective in
the long term. ...
Help newcomers acquire language proficiency.
Services in this area can contribute greatly to labour market
gains and inclusion more generally. They need to be designed
with the living and working constraints faced by migrants in
Allow people to work.
This is the single most important reform for improving human
development outcomes for migrants, especially poorer and more
vulnerable migrants. Access to the labour market is vital not
just because of the associated economic gains but also because
employment greatly increases the prospects for social
inclusion. Restrictions on seeking paid work, as have
traditionally been applied to asylum seekers and refugees in
many developed countries, are damaging both to short- and
medium-term outcomes, since they encourage dependency and
destroy self-respect. They should be abolished. Allowing
people to move among employers is a further basic principle of
well-designed programmes, which are concerned with the
interests of migrants and not solely with those of employers.
In many countries, high-skilled newcomers also face problems
in accreditation of the qualifications they bring from abroad.
Support local government roles.
Strong local government, accountable to local users, is
essential for the delivery of services such as primary health
and education. However, in some countries, government
officials implicitly deny the existence of migrants by
excluding them from development plans and allowing systematic
discrimination to thrive. ...
Address local budget issues, including fiscal transfers to
finance additional local needs.
Often, responsibility for the provision of basic services such
as schools and clinics lies with local authorities, whose
budgets may be strained by growing populations and who may
lack the tax base to address their responsibilities for
service delivery. Where subnational governments have an
important role in financing basic services, redistributive
fiscal mechanisms can help offset imbalances between revenue
and expenditure allocations. ...
Address discrimination and xenophobia.
Appropriate interventions by governments and civil society can
foster tolerance at the community level. This is especially
important where there is a risk of violence, although in
practice policy responses tend to emerge ex post. ...
It is important to give credit where it is due. There are
examples where state and local governments have embraced
migration and its broader social and cultural implications.
The recent West Australian Charter on Multiculturalism is an
interesting example of a state-level commitment to the
elimination of discrimination and the promotion of cohesion
and inclusion among individuals and groups. Many of the
foregoing recommendations are already standard policy in some
OECD countries, although there tends to be plenty of
variability in practice. The boldest reforms are needed in a
number of major destination countries, including, for example,
South Africa and the United Arab Emirates, where current
efforts to enable favourable human development outcomes for
individuals and communities fall far short of what is needed.
5.1.5 Enabling benefits from internal mobility
In terms of the number of people involved, internal migration
far exceeds external migration. An estimated 136 million
people have moved in China alone, and 42 million in India, so
the totals for just these two countries approach the global
stock of people who have crossed frontiers. This reflects the
fact that mobility is not only a natural part of human history
but a continuing dimension of development and of modern
societies, in which people seek to connect to emerging
opportunities and change their circumstances accordingly.
Given these realities, government policies should seek to
facilitate, not hinder, the process of internal migration. The
policies and programmes in place should not adversely affect
those who move. By the same token, they should not require
people to move in order to access basic services and
livelihood opportunities. These two principles lead to a
series of recommendations that are entirely within the
jurisdiction of all national governments to implement:
Remove the barriers to internal mobility.
To ensure full and equal civic, economic and social rights for
all, it is vital to lift legal and administrative constraints
to mobility and to combat discrimination against movers.
Provide appropriate support to movers at destination.
Just as they should do for people coming from abroad,
governments should provide appropriate support to people who
move internally. This may be done in partnership with local
communities and NGOs.
Some people who move are disadvantaged-due to lack of
education, prejudice against ethnic minorities and linguistic
differences-and therefore need targeted support programmes.
Support could be provided in areas ranging from job search to
language training. Access to social assistance and other
entitlements should be ensured. Above all, it is vital to
ensure that basic health care and education needs are met. ...
Redistribute tax revenues.
Intergovernmental fiscal arrangements should ensure the
redistribution of revenues so that poorer localities, where
internal migrants often live, do not bear a disproportionate
burden in providing adequate local public services. The same
principles as apply to fiscal redistribution to account for
the location of international migrants also apply here.
This may sound obvious and should by now go without saying,
but it is vital to build the capacity of local government and
programmes to respond to people's needs. Inclusive and
accountable local government can play a central role not only
in service provision but also in averting and alleviating
social tensions. Proactive urban planning, rather than denial,
is needed to avoid the social and economic marginalization of
Last but not least, many rural migrants describe being pushed
rather than pulled to urban areas because of inadequate public
facilities in their place of origin. The universal provision
of services and infrastructure should extend to places
experiencing net out-migration. This will provide
opportunities for people to develop the skills to be
productive and to compete for jobs in their place of origin,
while also preparing them for jobs elsewhere if they so
5.1.6 Making mobility an integral part of national development
A central theme of the 2009 Global Forum on Migration and
Development, hosted by Greece, is the integration of migration
into national development strategies. This raises the broader
question of the role of mobility in strategies for improving
human development. ...
The links between mobility and development are complex, in
large part because mobility is best seen as a component of
human development rather than an isolated cause or effect of
it. The relationship is further complicated by the fact that,
in general, the largest developmental gains from mobility
accrue to those who go abroad-and are thus beyond the realm of
the territorial and place-focused approaches that tend to
dominate policy thinking.
Migration can be a vital strategy for households and families
seeking to diversify and improve their livelihoods, especially
in developing countries. Flows of money have the potential to
improve well-being, stimulate economic growth and reduce
poverty, directly and indirectly. However, migration, and
remittances in particular, cannot compensate for an
institutional environment that hinders economic and social
development more generally. A critical point that emerges from
experience is the importance of national economic conditions
and strong public-sector institutions in enabling the broader
benefits of mobility to be reaped.
5.2 The political feasibility of reform
Against a background of popular scepticism about migration, a
critical issue is the political feasibility of our proposals.
This section argues that reform is possible, but only if steps
are taken to address the concerns of local people, so that
they no longer view immigration as a threat, either to
themselves individually or to their society.
While the evidence on mobility points to significant gains for
movers and, in many cases, benefits also for destination and
origin countries, any discussion of policy must recognize that
in many destination countries, both developed and developing,
attitudes among the local population towards migration are at
best mildly permissive and often quite negative. An array of
opinion polls and other surveys suggest that residents see
controls on immigration as essential and most would prefer to
see existing rules on entry tightened rather than relaxed.
Interestingly, however, attitudes to migration appear to be
more positive in countries where the migrant population share
in 1995 was large and where rates of increase over the past
decade have been high. In terms of the treatment of migrants,
the picture is more positive, as people tend to support
equitable treatment of migrants already within their borders.
We begin with the vexed issue of liberalizing entry. The
evidence suggests that opposition to liberalization is
widespread, but the picture is not as monochrome as it
initially appears. There are four main reasons why this is so.
First, as mentioned in chapter 4, many people are willing to
accept immigration if jobs are available. Our proposal links
future liberalization to the demand for labour, such that
inflows of migrants will respond to vacancy levels. This
alleviates the risk that migrants will substitute for or
undercut local workers. Indeed, conditions of this kind are
already widely applied by governments, particularly in the
developed economies, to the entry of skilled migrants. Our
proposal is that this approach be extended to low-skilled
workers, with an explicit link to the state of the national
labour market, and sectoral needs.
Second, our focus on improving the transparency and efficiency
of the pathways to permanence for migrants can help address
the persistent impression, shared by many local people, that a
significant part of cross-border migration is irregular or
illegal. ... Interestingly, recent data suggest that there is
considerable support in developed countries for permanent
migration, with over 60 percent of respondents feeling that
legal migrants should be given an opportunity to stay
To translate this support into action will require the design
of policies for legal migration that are explicitly linked to
job availability-and the marketing of this concept to the
public so as to build on existing levels of support. Parallel
measures to address the problem of irregular migration will
also need to be designed and implemented, so that the policy
vacuum in this area is no longer a source of concern to the
public. Large-scale irregular migration, although often
convenient for employers and skirted around by policy makers,
tends not only to have adverse consequences for migrants
themselves but also to weaken the acceptability of-and hence
the overall case for-further liberalization of entry rules.
Third, some of the resistance to migration is shaped by
popular misperceptions of its consequences. Many believe, for
example, that immigrants have a negative impact on the
earnings of existing residents or that they are responsible
for higher crime levels. These concerns again tend to be more
pronounced in relation to irregular migrants, not least
because their status is associated with an erosion of the rule
of law. There are several broad approaches to these issues
that have promise. Public information campaigns and awarenessraising
activities are vital. Because migration is a
contentious issue, information is often used selectively at
present, to support the arguments of specific interest groups.
While this is a natural and usually desirable feature of
democratic discussion, it can come at the cost of objectivity
and factual understanding. For example, a recent review of 20
European countries found that, in every case, the perceived
number of immigrants greatly exceeded the actual number, often
by a factor of two or more.
To address such vast gaps between perceptions and reality,
there is a need to provide the public with more impartial
sources of information and analysis on the scale, scope and
consequences of migration. ...
How migrants are treated is a further area of policy in which
reform may turn out to be easier than at first expected.
Equitable treatment of migrants not only accords with basic
notions of fairness but can also bring instrumental benefits
for destination communities, associated with cultural
diversity, higher rates of innovation and other aspects
explored in chapter 4. Indeed, the available evidence suggests
that people are generally quite tolerant of minorities and
have a positive view of ethnic diversity. These attitudes
suggest that there are opportunities for building a broad
consensus around the better treatment of migrants.
The protection of migrants' rights is increasingly in the
interest of the major destination countries that have large
numbers of their own nationals working abroad. By 2005, more
than 80 countries had significant shares of their populationsin
excess of 10 percent-as either immigrants or emigrants. For
these countries, observance of the rights of migrants is
obviously an important policy objective. This suggests that
bilateral or regional arrangements that enable reciprocity
could have an important role to play in enacting reforms in a
While there is clear scope for improving the quality of public
debates and of resulting policies, our proposals also
recognize that there are very real and important choices and
trade-offs to be made. In particular, our proposals have been
designed in such a way as to ensure that the gains from
further liberalization can be used in part to offset the
losses suffered by particular groups and individuals. ...
Moreover, the design of policy has to address the potential
costs associated with migration. The suggested design of the
reform package already ensures that the number of entrants is
responsive to labour demand, and helps assure that migrants
have regular status. Further measures could include
compensation for communities and localities that bear a
disproportionate share of the costs of migration in terms of
providing access to public services and welfare benefits. This
will help to dispel resentments against migrants among
specific groups and reduce the support for extremist political
parties in areas where immigration is a political issue. An
example of this can be found in the case of financial
transfers to schools with high migrant pupil numbers, a
measure taken in a number of developed countries.
Another important measure to minimize disadvantages to local
residents lies in the observance of national and local labour
standards. This is a core concern of unions and also of the
public, whose distress at the exploitation and abuse of
migrants is commendable and a clear sign that progressive
reform will prove acceptable. ...
We began this report by pointing to the extraordinarily
unequal global distribution of opportunities and how this is a
major driver of the movement of people. Our main message is
that mobility has the potential to enhance human developmentamong
movers, stayers and the majority of those in destination
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