Migration for Development
International migration is often mistakenly believed to be an over-all negative event. The effects are commonly misunderstood to strike negatively on both countries of origin and destination (host) countries. Emigration of skilled persons from low-income countries is said to constrain the prosperity of development through brain drain, thus by depriving the homelands their professionals critically needed for national development. In destination countries, immigrants are believed to constitute a social- and economic burden on the societal machinery - or that the immigrants are reducing job opportunities. Based on these quite typical judgements, migration is strongly connected with under-development and constraints rather than with development and growth.
If these judgements are true or false depends on the context build upon the linkages between the migrants and the countries involved. Brain drain doesn't solely strike the sender countries negatively, as the persons emigrating can continue to contribute to the development in their countries of origin from abroad. On the contrary, if applied rightfully, migration can reverse an otherwise vicious effect of brain drain followed by development constraints. Relevant skills, experiences, resources and widened networks obtained through the life journeys of the migrants can be used constructive, both by countries of origin and host countries.
Migration is also considered as an important factor at the international level as it affects economical and political relations between high-income /developed countries and low-income/developing countries. Hence, migrants create linkages between places and ties them together.
Despite growing number of integration policies in many of the more developed countries, many people of immigrant background remain discriminated on the labour market -leaving both host countries, immigrants but also countries of origin indebted with increased expenses and lost potentials.
Brain Gain vs. Brain Drain
Brain drain has for long been considered solely as a vicious event depriving sender countries, often less- and least developed countries, professionals needed for national development. However, and which is recogniz
ed by many governments, organizations and the academia, emigration of those (in unfair terms brain drain) contribute not only positively where the capacity of migrants is transferred. Hence, the capacity generated and advanced by the Diasporas could be utilized even by countries of origin, thus by opening up possibilities for Diasporas to contribute their knowledge and capacity for their countries of origin - by their return or virtually from abroad - as well as engaging them to invest in lucrative sectors of home countries' economies.
As many migrants already send large sums of money directly to their families left behind, those remittances could be utilized more effective even for the national development. The term "brain drain" is then an expired term, thus it is not fully reflecting the potentials of today. Global awareness and technological progresses have taken the migration process to a new level where the individuals are given more opportunities to be aware of changes and to be a part of- and influence changes. Hence, members of Diaspora communities and migrants in general are today blessed with increased possibilities to be aware of the situation in their countries of origin, but also with more opportunities to actually contribute and favour the situation of their countries of origin as well as - for which their contributions many times are targeted - for their families still there.
Investment and Trade opportunities
Many people in the diasporas shows interest to be part of- and contribute their capacity for their countries of origin, even from abroad. Countries of origin would benefit from incorporating their nationals abroad as Diasporas are often enriched with increased skills, experiences and resources collected from life abroad, as migrants and of course by their characteristics as people already from start enriched by capacity-factors to complete the migration process (e.g. resources and social networks). Thinking of low-income countries especially, the action of reconnecting (the capacity of) the people in the diasporas with their home countries is a strategic effort to speed up development. As they - in particular first generation emigrants - are equipped with knowledge of business and political culture of both homeland and host country, they can be used constructive to establish or improve trade relations between homelands and countries where the people in the diasporas are scattered.
"...trade is the glue that will bind us together and the diaspora will provide strength to this bond."
/Karan Singh, India's ambassador to the US 1989-90
However, despite a growing interest from both sides some bottlenecks still exists. One of these constitutes the Diasporas' very awareness about investment or trade opportunities and concrete possibilities to come back, physically or virtually, and invest their capacity and resources in different sectors of their home countries. Of course, this depends certainly also on the capacity and arrangements of their home countries for them to actually meet the ambitions of their nationals abroad.
Remittances (the money immigrants send back to countries of origin)
Considered as a development generator (even as an important tool in poverty reduction), remittances sent by the Diaspora contributes to long-term socio-economical effects at both the micro- and macro level.
Remittances sent by migrants in 2009
estimated to $414 billion!
At present, remittances serves as a development component primary at the household level as it supplies families of the migrants abroad sending the money with reasonably assets for them to attain improved lively conditions. At the macro level, remittances contribute to long-term socio-economic development, thus by strengthening the capacity of the households affected to make investments in education, entrepreneurship and health. Already remittances tops world aid and since the early 1990s remittances have accelerated to become the second most important source of finance from abroad, after Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
Over dimensional costs of sending and redrawing monetary transfers in combination with unfavorable regulations mostly in countries where the money are to be withdrawn are some critical issues needed to be taken cared of. Another obstacle is found in the physical and technological structures surrounding money transfers which needs to be utilized in favour for all parties involved. as a result, a large part of remittances is transfered through un-official channels - and is therefor not registered - for which to manage it is crucial to eliminate barriars for the benefit of all. Also, global economical crises may lower the levels of remittances as migrants' capacity to remitt money naturally slows down. The effects of global economical crises are therefor more critical for already constrained economies as those of low-income countries.
Join the discussion!
What are the main obstacles for countries of origin to utilize the capacity of their nationals living abroad? What can we do to ease for homelands to reverse Brain Drain to Brain Gain, and to harvest the fruits of national associates abroad? Develop your thoughts in the Discussion Board on the right!
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