Perspectives on Global Development

OECD Development Centre

2222-4475 (online)
2222-4467 (print)
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The OECD Development Centre's annual Perspectives on Global Development examines the broad trends and policy issues currently affecting the developing world. Past editions have examined such topics as wealth shifting to the developing world, social cohesion in the light of the shift in global wealth, industrial policy, and boosting productivity.

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Perspectives on Global Development 2017

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Perspectives on Global Development 2017

International Migration in a Shifting World You do not have access to this content

OECD Development Centre

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12 Dec 2016
9789264266469 (EPUB) ; 9789264265684 (PDF) ;9789264262539(print)

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Perspectives on Global Development 2017 presents an overview of the shifting of economic activity to developing countries and examines whether this shift has led to an increase in international migration towards developing countries. The report focuses on the latest data on migration between 1995 and 2015, and uses a new three-way categorisation of countries. It describes the recent evolution of migration overall as well as by groups of countries according to their growth performance.It analyses what drives these trends and also studies the special case of refugees. It examines the impact on migration of migration policies as well as various sectoral policies in developing countries of origin as well as of destination, and studies the impact of migration on these countries. The report also develops four illustrative future scenarios of migration in 2030 and recommends policies that can help improve the benefits of migration for origin and destination countries, as well as for migrants. Better data, more research and evidence-based policy action are needed to prepare for expected increases in the number of migrants from developing countries. More needs to be done to avoid situations that lead to refugee spikes as well as to foster sustainable development.

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  • Foreword

    Since its initiation in 2010, the OECD Development Centre’s Perspectives on Global Development series has investigated the increasing economic weight of developing countries in the world economy, a phenomenon we refer to as “shifting wealth”. Each edition has examined the effect of this trend on development, focusing on different policy concerns, from social cohesion (2012) and industrial policy (2013) to productivity and the middle-income trap (2014).

  • Acronyms and abbreviations
  • Editorial: Realising the potential of migration and development

    International migration holds the potential to improve the lives of migrants and advance welfare in countries of origin and destination alike provided the right public policies are put in place. Yet, in a context of rising anti-immigration sentiment, migration has become a sensitive issue on most policy agendas. While immediate humanitarian concerns linked to the current refugee crisis need to be addressed and resolved, more coherent policies and strengthened international co-operation are required to enhance the contribution of migration to development.

  • Executive summary

    Some 243 million people were living outside their country of birth in 2015, accounting for 3.3% of the world’s population, up from 2.7% in 1995. The shift in global economic activity towards developing countries (low- and middle-income countries) in the last two decades has not led to a parallel shift in migration towards these countries. Using a new three-way classification of countries to explore the impact of shifting wealth on migration, this report shows that migrants are instead increasingly attracted to traditional, high-income destination countries. Between 1995 and 2015, the share of immigrants to these countries increased by 13 percentage points to nearly two-thirds of the world total. Furthermore, economic development in developing countries has boosted international migration as more people have the financial resources needed to migrate.

  • Overview: International migration and development in a shifting world

    This overview chapter summarises the key findings and sets out the policy recommendations of this edition of Perspectives on Global Development which focuses on international migration. The report helps dispel the myths and enrich the debate on migration and development by highlighting the main trends and drivers of international migration in the context of shifting wealth; analysing the impact of migration on developing countries of origin and destination; making recommendations to governments in origin and destination countries, as well as to the international community, about policies that could help to improve the contribution of migration to development; and discussing potential scenarios on the future of migration. The overview chapter finishes by presenting a brief roadmap that describes the rest of the report.

  • Shifting wealth: Trends, implications and prospects

    This edition of Perspectives on Global Development examines international migration in the context of the phenomenon of “shifting wealth” and an increasingly interconnected world economy. Laying the groundwork for the following chapters on migration, this chapter revisits shifting wealth trends and implications, and it outlines some prospects for the future. The first section looks at the economic factors that have driven shifting wealth, highlighting in particular the role of China as its engine, the recent commodity price boom, massive capital investment, the increasing interdependencies of the world economy and technological change. It illustrates how the shifting wealth process is slowing. The second section records how the phenomenon has benefited living conditions around the world, particularly with respect to jobs, wages and incomes. However, it also illustrates that current challenges to growth and trends in other areas, such as demography and inequality, risk undoing some of the recent achievements. The final section posits the hypothesis that the shifting wealth phenomenon has influenced patterns of international migration. It introduces a new typology of countries to help explore this question.

  • Recent trends in international migration

    International migration is receiving greater attention. This chapter provides a short overview of migration over the last 200 years to provide some context. It then describes the trends between 1995 and 2015 using data from the UNDESA released in 2016 and the new three-way classification of countries developed in this report. It highlights the main countries of origin and destination as well as the main migration corridors. It shows the impact of the 2008/09 economic crisis on migration flows. It highlights how country location and other specificities have a strong effect on the broad relationship between emigration rates and increasing GDP per capita in developing countries. Finally, it details the changes in the demographic and educational characteristics of migrants between 2000 and 2010, the last year for which such detailed information is available.

  • Key drivers of recent international migration

    Prosperous countries attract migrants but economic considerations are not the only factors driving people to leave their country of birth. Other drivers include factors like geographical and cultural distance, levels of educational achievement and the influence exerted by migrants who have already established themselves abroad. This chapter provides an overview of the major drivers both economic and otherwise that explain the evolution of migration patterns from 1995 to 2015. It investigates the conditions that continue to attract more migrants to developed countries than to economies that experienced high and sustained economic growth. And it describes how in these countries new opportunities provided by economic development have perhaps counterintuitively led to increased emigration.

  • How public policies affect migration flows

    The most evident public policies that can affect patterns of migration are those that explicitly aim to manage the movement of people: border controls, visa requirements, family reunification regulations, etc. Yet other policies, in countries of both destination and origin, can also influence people’s decisions to migrate. A country’s policies for its labour market, agriculture, education, investment and financial services, and social protection and health all affect the prevailing economic and social climates and, in so doing, influence the incentives to migrate or stay at home. While investigating the impact of public policies on migration, this chapter therefore considers the effect of both explicit migration policies and policies for sectors that are not directly linked to migration.

  • A new refugee era

    Migrants leave their home countries for many reasons: usually to seek a better life elsewhere for themselves and their families. But for many – the statistics suggest it is the case of 1 in 14 migrants – the choice is dictated by fear of persecution, violence and insecurity. The world appears to be entering a new era of refugees, some 20 years after the waves of refugees who in the 1990s fled the Balkans, Liberia, Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2015 most refugees came from three countries: the Syrian Arab Republic, Afghanistan and Somalia. Most find shelter in neighbouring countries, even if patterns of origin and desired destination have been changing in recent years. This new surge represents an immense challenge to the international community, which needs to profit from the skills of the refugees and do all it can to resolve the problems that caused flight in the first place.

  • The development impact of migration in origin countries

    Emigration can have both positive and negative effects on the countries of migrant origin. Migration is not an absolute necessity for those countries’ development but it does bring benefits in terms not only of tangible form in the shape of the money and goods that the migrants send home but also in less tangible forms: the expertise, skills and knowledge acquired abroad and a wider view of the world that can help transform the societies they have left. But there is a price. Families are split. There may be adverse consequences for households that lose working family members. The departure of the brightest and best diminishes the country’s stock of human capital. Countries that see large numbers of their citizens emigrate have every interest in encouraging their return and discouraging some departures in the first place, and some have instituted relevant policies with this goal.

  • Impacts of immigration to developing countries

    About 35% of international migrants live at present in low- or middle-income countries and their presence has effects on the host economies, social structures and the environment. Developing countries, as countries of destination, face limits to their ability fully to benefit from immigration because the informal economy is so widespread and there is a lack of access to markets and resources for the development of public goods. Everything is made more complicated by a shortage of in-depth analyses and active policy debates on immigration. This chapter identifies the impacts of immigration in developing countries on their economic and socio-cultural dimensions and discusses how policies shape these impacts.

  • Four possible scenarios for international migration in 2030

    History can teach the world about international migration in the past. But what about the future and specifically the next 15 years? This chapter presents four future scenarios for international migration. The first scenario extends the trends that are already evident today, such as slowing growth in developing economies. The second presents a more positive vision of where the world could be in 2030, using the Sustainable Development Goals as inspiration. The third scenario imagines the consequences of a global shock in the form of a financial crisis, and reveals a world in which global co-operation is effectively addressing the challenges. The final scenario shows what could happen if global co-operation deteriorates in a context of rapid automation and economic divergence. The chapter concludes by drawing lessons from the scenarios and asks what can be done to avoid the scenarios’ negative aspects and advance towards the more positive aspects.

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