Harnessing the Potential of Migration and Return to Promote Development

Applying Concepts to West Africa

image of Harnessing the Potential of Migration and Return to Promote Development

This paper is intended to stimulate discussions on the relationship between migration, return, and development. It outlines the operational framework and research strategy that will be used to investigate this relationship in an ongoing research project on West Africa. The paper discusses the following issues: contemporary trends in international migration in West Africa, consequences of migration to domestic labour markets, effects of migrant remittances, brain drain phenomenon, the developmental impacts of potential capital transfers occurring with return, elements for a meso-level approach on migration issues to achieve an improved understanding of the complex relationship between international migration, return, and development.



The study of return and transnational migration: Methodological issues

The return of migrants with its human capital implications is one of the most commonly cited benefits of migration for the sending country, along with remittance and labour market effects (Todaro, 1976). But this is not the only form of capital transfer involved with return migration. Financial and social capital can also be mobilized through migrants’ return. Migrants may accumulate savings while living and working abroad and bring them back once they return. They may also make professional and personal contacts, which prove useful and productive for their endeavours back home. It is argued that these implications of retjurn migration vary significantly according to the level of analysis that is chosen and based on several critical factors. These include the volume of return migration, characteristics of migrants, degree and direction of selectivity, types of migration, reasons for return, and situations existing in the countries involved in the migration.


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