WASHINGTON/LONDON – Immigrants are overwhelmingly choosing to stay put in their adopted countries, rather than return home, despite the impact of the economic downturn on employment, a new report by the Migration Policy Institute for BBC World Service, published today, reveals. Migration and the Global Recession reports that some migration flows, particularly illegal migration, are also down as would-be migrants are being deterred by reduced job prospects in countries that would previously have offered them better opportunities.
The report focuses on migration flows to and from the major migrant-destination regions of the world, including: the United States, European Union, Canada and Australia; as well as movement in major migration corridors: the United States-Mexico; United Kingdom-Eastern Europe; Spain-Romania and Spain-Morocco; and Gulf State flows from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and the Philippines.
The report offers three top-line findings:
Other specific findings revealed in the report include:
MPI President Demetrios G. Papademetriou, who co-authored the report comments: "With international migration having extended its reach across the globe in the last two decades or so, the recession's savaging of the sectors in which most migrants are employed has meant that more people in more countries have been affected than during any other downturn in most people's memory. Yet so far, and despite a few exceptions, there have been no dramatic changes in the way in which either policymakers or migrants have behaved. Policymakers have made only modest adjustments to immigration levels. And so far, relatively few migrants are going back 'home.' One change is evident nonetheless: In most migration corridors, fewer would-be immigrants are emigrating. Staying put, then, seems to be the firmest interim conclusion one can draw from the available data."
"As for the near to mid-term, and without knowing when employment in the major immigrant-attracting countries will start growing again, it is 'safe' to predict that the need for immigrants across an expanding number of countries is now structural and, as a result, large-scale immigration will resume in the next two to five years," Papademetriou added.
Andrew Walker, Economics and Business Correspondent, BBC comments:
"This report is rich and diverse in detail, but one message stands out. Migrant workers have been especially vulnerable to the global economic storms that were blown up by the financial crisis. They are more likely to lose their jobs and their families at home have paid the price in the shape of less financial support. Many have pulled down the shutters while the storm rages and decided to wait for better times — either at home or, if they have already moved abroad, in their host country. It is also very plain from the report that migration is an increasingly important part of the global economic landscape. Investment moves across borders fairly freely in search of the best opportunities. Increasingly, people want to as well. The pattern depends on where the opportunities are. But when the economy recovers, people will be on the move once again."
The report shows that the effects of the recession are nuanced and varied, depending greatly on the character of the flows (permanent, temporary, illegal and humanitarian); whether they are to or from a destination country; and the region of the world involved. However, a look at some of the major migration corridors suggests that illegal and temporary worker flows are most affected by economic contraction.
Migration and the Global Recession is available at www.bbc.com/Aftershock and www.migrationpolicy.org/pubs/MPI-BBCreport-Sept09.pdf.
The BBC World Service commissioned the report as part of the new Aftershock season investigating the impact of the global recession, which is broadcasting across the BBC's global news services: BBC World Service, BBC World News and BBC.com during September.
About: Migration and the Global Recession Report:
The BBC World Service report commissioned from MPI explores how the recession has affected the movement of some of the world's 195 + million migrants and the money they send to families at home (remittances) in locations around the globe over the past year.
The 130-page report provides data on migration, remittances, employment and poverty rates for immigrants and the native-born alike; and examines the policy changes some countries have enacted to suppress migrant inflows, encourage departures (including through recent "pay-to-go" plans) and protect labor markets for native-born workers.
The report also examines internal migration in China, and how the recession affected the 70 million rural migrant workers who returned to their hometowns for the 2009 Chinese New Year, in what amounts to the world's largest annual movement of people.
The Migration Policy Institute, based in Washington, D.C., is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank dedicated to analysis of the movement of people worldwide. For more on MPI, visit http://www.migrationpolicy.org.
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