Publication Date

2010

Abstract

[Excerpt] Many individuals migrate in the hope of attaining better living and working conditions for themselves and their families – a fact which highlights the important role of the labour market for the individual in the migration experience. But the labour market also plays an important role in the manner in which migrant workers contribute to economic development in the country of destination and how migration influences development in the country of origin.

Countries of destination stand to benefit from migration because an inflow of workers can help address skill shortages and a declining labour supply; contribute to a potential resurgence of many traditional sectors, such as the agricultural and service sectors; and an influx of workers can help finance pension schemes and other social security measures. At the same time, these benefits must be weighed against any perceived impacts or consequences that migrant workers have on the labour market of destination countries.

Countries of origin can also benefit through remittance flows and the transfer of investments, technology and skills (the latter through permanent or temporary return migration). These factors are said to enhance development outcomes (improved growth, reduced poverty, etc.) of countries characterized by outward migration. In addition, outward migration is said to reduce competition and labour supply pressures in countries of origin, improving the relative position of workers in these countries. However, outward migration or emigration of labour (skilled or otherwise) could also represent a loss of human capital for countries of origin, hampering the development process over the medium to long term.

A key challenge with respect to migration is the extent to which the countries of study share the conditions of being simultaneously countries of origin, transit and destination. While each type of approach to the migration process has important implications and interactions with respect to the labour market and development in the region, the focus of this report will be on emigration. In particular, the aim will be to explore the channels in which out migration can influence development in the countries of origin in terms of: (i) impact on local labour market and development; (ii) capital returns via remittances (financial resources); and, (iii) return migration (human capital: temporary, circular or permanent).

The report examines these issues in North and West Africa (focusing on Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco, Senegal and Tunisia). While the five countries of study incorporate migration issues within their development strategies to varying degrees, there is still a need for better understanding and more emphasis on the role of employment and labour markets. In the ILO’s view, the world of work is of central importance for the migration–development nexus. In 2005, the ILO’s Governing Body adopted the Multilateral Framework on Labour Migration, in which Guideline 15.1 advocates “integrating and mainstreaming labour migration in national employment, labour market and development policy.”

Chapter 1 establishes the context for economic, social and labour market indicators in the countries of origin, including the importance of migration and reasons for migrating. Chapter 2 examines key emigration trends and analyses the labour market performance of migrant workers from North and West Africa and related human capital and development issues in these countries of origin.

Chapter 3 examines the subject of remittances transferred to the five countries of study, including the labour market (and other) factors that determine the probability to remit and issues regarding the impact of such remittances on development. Chapter 4 considers the subject of return migration, i.e. migrant workers who return to their country of origin after spending time living and working elsewhere (either temporarily or permanently). It examines reasons behind the decision to return and the factors that determine their labour market success upon return. Chapter 5 concludes with some of the main lessons and policy implications of the research and discusses possible areas for future work in the field of labour markets, migration and development. This final chapter also draws on experiences from other regions and countries to illustrate the types of practices, programmes and policies that have been implemented elsewhere.

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