International Migration Outlook From the OECD

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The Organization for Economic Co-Operation And Development (OECD) has put out a "flagship publication on migration" entitled the International Migration Outlook 2008.  According to the BBC, the OECD "represents the world's richest developed countries", so it's conclusions should be taken with a grain of salt. 

Still the summaries of the report that are available give a good overview of global migration, and the fact that it's being studied suggest that the world is finally accepting migration as a global phenomenon that has to be dealt with in a comprehensive manner:
I gained the most from the remarks of the OECD's Secretary General, Angel Gurría, who had this to say:

Migration is here to stay. It will become an increasingly important feature of the global landscape. But countries' policies to manage the many challenges that these movements pose have been lagging behind the events. Most countries have been approaching the issue in a piecemeal fashion. Migration-related issues, such as the labour market insertion of migrants, their integration into society, security and border controls, remittances sent back home, and brain drain in origin countries, are being addressed separately, often without a coherent framework. And we are still missing an important part of the picture as we know too little about illegal immigration.
Angel Gurría (10 September 2008)
It's good to see someone advocating for a truly comprehensive approach to migration policy.

The report itself does not take any strong stands on specific types migration policy, but it does offer some important insights on temporary work programs.  The basic premise pushed in the main editorial (pdf) is that it doesn't make any sense to provide temporary visas for permanent low-skilled jobs.

The report also states that efforts to force migrants to return almost always end up not working.  There is a high turnover rate in migration as between 20%-50% of migrants either move back or to a different country within five years, but it is of their own whim.  Any attempt by the recieving or sender nation to influence that usually comes up short.

Also extremely interesting to me was how the report focused on the benefits to sender nations.  It appears that migration cannot really affect the economy of the sender nation by itself.  Once the economy of the sender nation does better, though, migrants return of their own whim and act to multiply the effects of economic growth.  Here's the best passage from their main editorial:

Returns are non-negligible but they are not driven by policy

Depending on the country of destination and the time period considered, 20% to 50% of long-term immigrants leave the host country within five years after their arrival, either to return home or to move on to a third country (secondary emigration). There are also noticeable return flows around the age of retirement. Returns are generally spontaneous, taken at the initiative of the immigrant. They suggest that even longer term migration is more dynamic than is generally believed. The above rates of return apply even to countries such as Canada, the United States and New Zealand, which grant the right of permanent residence upon entry to long-term immigrants and where access to citizenship is relatively easy. The more stable status granted to immigrants in these countries does not seem to result in more back-and-forth movements, except in some special cases.

Most returns are driven by individual determinants. Explicit policies by both host and home countries to encourage or attract returns have achieved little to date. Programmes for assisting voluntary return by host countries have had only a limited impact on returns. If the political, economic and social situation in the home country is stable and attractive, a certain number of returns occur spontaneously; otherwise, assistance and financial aid by the host country are rarely sufficient to convince many migrants to return. In any event, there is little incentive for long-stay immigrants to depart, especially if they have brought in their families and their children have been born and educated in the host country.

Similarly, efforts made by some origin countries to attract back their nationals residing abroad have had a limited impact. The empirical evidence suggests that returns tend to occur to origin countries when economic conditions are attractive and new opportunities exist. The returning emigrants to Ireland during the Celtic tiger era are a good illustration of this. When the returns do occur, the human and financial resources contributed by migrants can give a dynamic boost to growth already underway, especially if governments allow these resources to be put to effective use. But the basic growth fundamentals have to be already in place.
Editorial - International Migration Outlook 2008 (pdf)

I'm going to try and get access to the whole report, but I'll leave it at that for now.  Let me know if you want me to write more on global topics like this.

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2 Comments

kyledeb said:

I cross-posted this at The Sanctuary.

symsess said:

I think it's important that this topic be continually discussed. We're always trying to advocate for those here, but the best advocacy is ensuring opportunities the world over. The sad thing is that it would behove even nativists to understand this, but they're too busy advocating for walls and raids.

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This page contains a single entry by kyledeb published on September 11, 2008 2:04 AM.

Migrants Vulnerable Again As Ike Approaches Texas was the previous entry in this blog.

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