Internal Migration and Development

A Global Perspective

image of Internal Migration and Development

With a few exceptions, evidence suggests that internal population movements are growing. While there have been few formal efforts to estimate the economic contribution of migrant labour, this report argues that internal migration can play an important role in poverty reduction and economic development and should therefore not be controlled or actively discouraged.



Conclusions and implications for policy

A failure to fully understand mobility and migration results in an insufficient understanding of what the poor do to make a living and how policy can help them to maximize the benefits of multi-locational livelihood strategies. Since many internal migrants in Africa and Asia are poor and come from drought prone areas, the policy implications of internal migration are at the heart of poverty reduction. This review has shown that there are marked differences in the pattern of internal migration by region: in East and South-East Asia, migration is driven by economic booms; in India new “pushes” created by population pressure, commodity price crashes and drought have emerged at the same time as new “pulls” created by urbanization and manufacturing; in the more stagnant economies of sub-Saharan Africa mobility has increased but with mixed poverty-reducing impacts and in the already highly urbanized countries of Latin America inter-urban movements are increasing. While the evidence on the positive impacts of internal migration in terms of poverty reduction is more clear in South-East and East Asia, there is also evidence that mobility is critical to livelihoods in Africa. It is also evident that migration can have multiplier effects on the entire sending area through stimulating land and labour markets, increased agricultural production and improved nutrition, health and education. Controls on population movement are likely to hamper economic growth and poverty reduction. While some important policy such as the Club du Sahel (2000) and the European Food Security network (see RESAL, 1999) have recognized this, there is still a policy gap in many donor organizations, government and decision-making circles. Urgent policy attention is needed in three areas.


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