Migration is a development challenge. About 184 million people—2.3 percent of the world’s population—live outside of their country of nationality. Almost half of them are in low- and middle-income countries. But what lies ahead?
As the world struggles to cope with global economic imbalances, diverging demographic trends, and climate change, migration will become a necessity in the decades to come for countries at all levels of income. If managed well, migration can be a force for prosperity and can help achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
World Development Report 2023 proposes an integrated framework to maximize the development impacts of cross-border movements on both destination and origin countries and on migrants and refugees themselves.
The framework it offers, drawn from labor economics and international law, rests on a “match and motive” matrix that focuses on two factors: how closely migrants’ skills and attributes match the needs of destination countries and what motives underlie their movements.
The report’s framework, the Match and Motive Matrix, draws from labor economics and international law to identify priority policies for four types of movements based on who moves and under what circumstances. Where a migrant fits in the Match and Motive Matrix depends in part on their human capital and personal characteristics and, in part, on the policies of the destination countries.
4 types of movements are :
Many Economic Migrants, Refugees with skills, Distressed Migrants and Many Refugees.
Migration is a response to global imbalances, such as large welfare differences, and to shocks such as conflict and violence. Some 184 million people live outside of their country of nationality, about 20 percent of whom are refugees. About 43 percent live in low- and middle-income countries.
Migrants and refugees live in countries in all income groups—43 percent in low- and middle-income countries; 40 percent in high-income member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD); and 17 percent in member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
Spurred by two unprecedented forces—rapid demographic transitions and climate change—crossborder movements are becoming both inevitable and necessary for migrants and economies at all levels of income. The populations of high-income and many middle-income countries are aging quickly, while the populations of low-income countries are expected to continue to grow. This trend is creating large mismatches between labor supply and demand across the world.
Unprecedented demographic transitions, including rapidly aging societies in both high-income and middle-income countries and booming populations in low-income countries, will make migration increasingly necessary for countries at all levels of income. Whether countries allow migration to help reduce the expected mismatches between labor supply and demand caused by these demographic shifts will largely determine economic and social trajectories at all income levels.
Advantages of Migration :
International migration has proved to be a powerful engine of poverty reduction for people in low and middle-income countries. Formal access to the labor market—documented status, the right to work and to change employers, recognition of professional licenses and qualifications—leads to better outcomes for migrants. Undocumented migrants fare significantly worse, and they are more vulnerable to exploitation. There are few returned migrants who perform fairly well on their return back to nation.
When migrants’ skills and attributes are a strong match with the needs of destination countries, origin countries benefit as well. Benefits include remittances, knowledge transfers, and positive impacts on the labor market. These benefits accrue to both regular and irregular migrants, although migrants’ gains, and how much they can share with their families in their origin countries, are larger when they have regular status. • However, the absence of migrants also has a downside for their families and origin countries, including the impacts of the brain drain when high-skilled workers emigrate. Although the costs tend to be smaller in magnitude than the gains, they are significant in some countries.
Destination countries gain significantly from the contributions of migrants whose skills and attributes strongly match their needs, irrespective of migrants’ legal status or motivation. • Benefits arise from migrants’ contributions in the labor market and to higher productivity and greater availability and lower prices for some goods and services, as well as their fiscal contributions. These benefits are larger if migrants are allowed and able to work formally at the level of their qualifications. Destination countries can adopt policies that improve how well migrants’ skills and attributes match countries’ needs—and thus their gains—by creating adequate legal pathways for entry and by facilitating economic and social inclusion.
Challenges of Migration :
Because refugees move for safety, they are not always able to reach destinations where their skills are in demand. Providing international protection often comes with costs for the host country, and yet it is an obligation under international law. Host countries’ policies can also help reduce the costs, while maintaining high protection standards. Refugee situations tend to last for years, and managing them exclusively through emergency and humanitarian programs is ineffective. Policies should be geared toward financial and social sustainability by means of internal mobility, self-reliance, and inclusion in national services.
The circumstances surrounding distressed migration are often irregular and painful. This type of migration also entails costs for destination countries, but these countries have no international legal obligation to host distressed migrants. The challenge is to reduce the need for distressed migration, including by extending the scope of international protection, shifting incentives through the establishment of legal entry pathways, and strengthening the match of migrants’ skills and attributes with the needs of destination economies through development. There is significant scope for countries of origin, destination, and transit to manage cross-border movements in a strategic manner, thereby maximizing gains while mitigating costs. Although making policy on migration is often politically sensitive, lessons can be drawn from other countries to develop evidence-based approaches. • The challenge is to determine not only what needs to be done, but also how to get it done.