Migration can help fight global poverty, according to new OECD report

Better and more coherent migration policies can contribute to the fight against global poverty. This is the main conclusion of “Migration and Developing Countries”, a new report by the OECD Development Centre that was presented at the German Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development.

People, goods and capital move across international borders: this is what globalisation really means. The effects of trade and capital flows have been measured and quantified by the OECD and others and are widely known. Flows of people and their impact on development, however, are much less understood. By focussing on the costs and benefits of the movement of people Migration and Developing Countries shows how all parties can benefit from migration: migrants’ countries of destination, their home countries, and migrants themselves. Emigration, say the book’s authors, can reduce unemployment for low-skilled workers in migrant-sending countries, while remittances fuel consumption and investment, helping to reduce poverty.

While migration can contribute to development, development does not immediately halt international migration. International development assistance – aid – is not necessarily; therefore, a means of influencing migration flows. For this reason, Migration and Developing Countries calls for mutually reinforcing aid and migration policies. In this way, say the authors, developing countries can derive greater economic benefits from the mobility of their citizens. One example could be to link policies facilitating the recruitment of skilled workers to aid policies underpinning training and capacity building in the sending country. To unlock the development potential of international migration, policy makers in rich and poor countries must recognise that neither migration policies nor aid policies alone are enough in isolation to stimulate and maintain the momentum of development. OECD countries need to consider the development impact of their migration policies, while migrant-sending countries must rethink their development policies in the light of labour mobility. Moreover, migrants’ associations, enterprises and banks dealing with migrants and their families all play a role in increasing the development pay off of international migration.