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[Excerpt] Although there are multiple “push” and “pull” motivations to migrate (e.g. cultural, family reunification, social conflict, etc.), economic reasons, notably the search for better jobs and decent incomes, remain central to the decision. This report presents novel evidence in this respect, namely:

-- female migrant workers from Morocco residing in France earn 16 times more than the average earnings of women in Morocco (for men, the figure is close to 6 times);

-- Algerian and Tunisian migrant workers earn between 3.4 and 8 times the average earnings in their country of origin; and,

-- in Spain, migrant workers from Morocco earn between 4.5 and 10.5 times the average earnings of men and women, respectively, in Morocco.

Migration can be a positive factor in the development of countries of origin, notably through two main channels: remittances and return migration. Remittances are an important source of financial flows to the region, having tripled since 1990 to reach over US$12 billion in 2008. For Morocco and Senegal, this amounts to 8 per cent or more of GDP. These financial flows can assist development directly by sustaining incomes in the countries of origin, and indirectly to the extent that remittances help to support education, infrastructure and investment in the private sector.

As a result of the global crisis, remittances to the region only grew by just over 4 per cent in 2008, compared to over 23 per cent in 2007, and they fell by an estimated 10 per cent in 2009. This decline is more pronounced than in other developing regions, where the estimated decline in remittances is around 6 per cent.

Similarly, the return of migrants can contribute to development through the promotion, mobilization and utilization of productive resources. Many return having gained valuable experience and knowledge through the migration process. Some returnees invest savings accumulated abroad and engage in entrepreneurial activities, with significant multiplier effects.

In practice, however, evidence with respect to the link between remittances and return migration on the one hand and development on the other is weak. The report finds that between two-thirds and three-quarters of remittances to North and West Africa are destined for either the spouse/partner or parent, with the bulk of remittances used to support household subsistence. This financial inflow directly supports the living standards of migrants' families and their communities. But the broader multiplier effects on employment and the economy are limited in the countries under review.