Labour Migration: A Developmental Path or a Low-level Trap?

Migration issues are much discussed today.  Our topic is the debate about the developmental impact of migration on the sending countries.  Throughout the post-WWII period, temporary labor migration (e.g., South-east Europe to West Europe or Mexico to the United States) has been promoted as a path to development.  Remittances have grown to rival or surpass official development assistance and have increased the living standards in the sending countries.  However, the evidence over the decades is that the remittances do not lead to development or even to higher incomes sustainable without further migration.  Some determinedly temporary labor migration schemes offer promise.  But where the pattern of migration and remittances locks into a semi-permanent arrangement (the standard line is ?here? nothing more permanent than temporary migration?, then this may be a developmental trap for the South.  This takes the form of a semi-permanent “3 D’s Deal”; the South will forego self-development in favor of being a long-range bedroom community to supply the labor for the dirty, dangerous, and difficult jobs in the North. This is a reprint from Development in Practice (August 2005).

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