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Africa: Migration & Human Development

AfricaFocus Bulletin
Apr 22, 2011 (110422)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

"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

Another AfricaFocus Bulletin sent out today by e-mail, and available on the web at, 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 situations.

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:

  1. Liberalizing and simplifying regular channels that allow people to seek work abroad;
  2. Ensuring basic rights for migrants;
  3. Reducing transaction costs associated with migration;
  4. Improving outcomes for migrants and destination communities;
  5. Enabling benefits from internal mobility; and
  6. Making mobility an integral part of national development strategies.

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 country level.

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 inevitable. ...

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 recession.

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 tertiary degrees.

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 Zealand. ...

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 shortages.

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 Greece.


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 human rights.

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 state action.

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 category.

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 treaties. ...

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 national efforts.

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 consideration:

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. ...

Intergovernmental cooperation.

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 communities

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 development assistance.

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 follows:

Provide access to basic services-particularly schooling and health care.

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 mind. ...

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.

Enhance responsiveness.

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 migrants.


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 choose.

5.1.6 Making mobility an integral part of national development strategies

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 permanently.

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 coordinated manner.

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. ...

5.3 Conclusions

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 societies. ...

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