The unexpected benefits of migration

Economic migration is having wide-ranging and sometimes surprising consequences in the home country of migrants, a new World Bank study shows.

by World Bank
Last Updated: 23 Jul 2013

These include improving girls' education, decreasing child labour, reducing fertility rates, raising wages for migrants returning to their home country and reducing household poverty.

According to the study, migration from South Asia helps to increase female school enrolment by as much as 54%, as resources are transferred from absent sons to daughters, a phenomenon also reported in Central America.

There is also a strong link between migration on the one hand and the prevalence of child labour and the level of girls' education on the other. In Pakistan, girls living in migrant household completed an extra two years of education compared with non-migrant households, while children in migrant households were 66% less likely to work than other households.

The same phenomenon is found in Mexico, where extreme poverty was reduced by as much as 35% in migrant households. In Pakistan, Nicaragua and Guatemala children's weight for age and height for age scores improved in migrant households, while maternal health and survival are improved as remittances from the migrant family member helps pay for doctors to assist during births.

The findings are drawn from a new migration database covering 226 countries. It shows that of the 42 million migrants, one quarter are now moving from South to South instead of South to North.

Caglar Osden, co-editor of the data for the book International Migration, Economic Development and Policy, said that the findings proved the importance of migration and remittances for policymakers. "Patterns in the new data reported in this book confirm, for instance, that migration is heavily influenced by a common language in the host and receiving countries, distance that migrants have to travel from home, and expectation of increased income upon migration."

Another major finding is that migration from Morocco and Turkey to Europe led to a decline in fertility as ideas and modes of behaviour were transmitted from the host to source countries. By contrast, migration from Egypt to conservative Gulf countries did not have a noticeable effect in reducing fertility in migrant households.

One study in the book showed that temporary migrant workers returning home enjoyed a significant wage premium - averaging 38% compared with non-migrant households in Egypt, for instance.

Source:
International Migration, Economic development and Policy
Edited by Caglar Osden and Maurice Schiff
World Bank

Review by Joe Gill

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