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Migration is of all times
Migration is not new. People have always looked for new places to live, for many different reasons. While it is true that we have seen an increase in migrants in recent years, it is important to put things into perspective. Since 1990, the number of migrants worldwide has only increased from 2.9 to 3.3 percent.
Migrants are more likely to be hosted by developing countries
Not all migrants come to the West. A United Nations report from 2018 shows that 21.7 million migrants are hosted by developing countries, while developed countries such as those of the European Union and North America took in 'only' 3.6 million migrants. The number of migrants that are being hosted by developing countries has doubled in the last decade. The ten countries that have taken in the most migrants are Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran, Uganda, Ethiopia, Jordan, Germany, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya.
Developing countries take in more migrants than developed countries. Photo: Developing countries take in more migrants than developed countries. Photo: camp with Rohingya refugees Jamtoli in Bangladesh. © iStock
Migrants are often very young
Young people in particular migrate to another country. More than half of all migrants from Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Uganda are minors. In addition to age, education also appears to be a good predictor of migration. Migrants are more likely to be highly educated than non-migrants and seek opportunities to convert their knowledge into practice.
Not all migrants are men
Despite the existence of social standards that restrict women's mobility, the number of female migrants is growing. They now represent almost half of all migrants in the world. Research shows that girls with a higher educated father are more likely to migrate than girls whose father has not studied. Fathers' support clearly has an impact on the future of their daughters. While men often migrate for work-related reasons, women migrate more often for family reasons.
Not everyone migrates for the same reason
Every migration story is different. Some migrants flee their country because of war, while others seek greater opportunities abroad. Migration is often not a choice, but a matter of life and death. In 2016, the United Nations estimated that around 66 million people were forced to leave their homes because of persecutions, conflicts, violence and human rights violations. More than 40 million of these were 'internally displaced persons', meaning that they migrate within their own country.
Many women also migrate. Photo: Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya with newly arrived Somali women. © iStock
Agriculture plays a major role in migration
Contrary to popular belief, migrants do not always move from rural to urban areas. The situation appears to be much more complex. For example, many people in rural areas migrate to other rural areas between harvests in search of work and food security. Poor harvests will therefore increase the migratory flows. Special attention to agriculture in the migration debate is therefore very important.
Climate change causes migration
Global warming has a major impact on people's lives in rural areas. Droughts or floods caused by climate change lead to failed harvests and hunger. Many people decide to migrate in order to escape food insecurity, income loss and extreme temperatures. The United Nations predict that climate change will mainly affect people in poverty and cause more migration.
Migration impacts the host country and the country of origin
Migration can positively impact the host country’s labour market by compensating for labour shortages. At the same time, migration also affects the labour market in the country of origin, since the departure of migrants results in a loss of labour force. In principle, this is detrimental both to the families left behind and to the country of origin itself.
Nevertheless, many families encourage a family member to migrate. They count on the money that the immigrant family member will send back to invest it in a useful way (= the so-called remittances, which amount to three times the total amount of official development aid).
Development is not an immediate remedy against migration
Migration increases as countries develop. People in extreme poverty do not have enough money to migrate. Investing in development and poverty reduction in order to combat migration will initially have the opposite effect. Migration will only start to decrease when a country belongs to the category of middle-income countries.
Migration results from inequality
Unequal opportunities lead to migration. Providing people with better access to education, health care and employment opportunities will eventually reduce migration. Investing in the future gives people more opportunities to grow in order to reach their potential, without forcing them to migrate. Migration must be a choice, not an emergency plan that stems from a lack of opportunities.