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The Nexus between Migration and Development

Migration and development are interdependent processes in the globalizing world. These processes, either jointly or independently, have played a decisive role in the progress of human civilization. They have influenced the evolution of states, societies, economies and institutions. In fact the forces of migration have influenced the nature of the production system and the development process for centuries.
The term migration can be used in several senses. When migration refers to the movement of people, it includes movement of refugees, displaced persons and uprooted people, labor migrants and economic migrants. But, when migrant is used in the development context, it covers only those situations where the decision to migrate is taken freely by the individual concerned, for reason of personal choice and without an external compelling factor.
The impact of migration on the development process in developing countries is quite significant. Because, migration has played a vital role in providing people with a means to maintain and sustain life. People have gathered resources and accumulated wealth through migration that has helped them to address poverty. For this reason, migration has emerged as a significant tool in a ‘livelihood strategy’, especially for the people of developing countries. However, migration not only offers a livelihood strategy to people in peace time, but also to people in conflict or post conflict situations. Indeed, for developing countries, employment of its people outside the country can mean:
  • The possibility for remittances
  • Reduced vulnerability of families
  • Greater empowerment of women
  •  Impact on social institutions
  •  Financial, social, and human capital impact of return migration
  • Greater potential for small business development and  entrepreneurship; and
  • Increased Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). 
However, the cause-effect relationships between migration and development are not very clear. There are two divergent views on the relationship between migration and development:
  • ‘Balanced Growth’ Approach; and
  • ‘Systematic View’
Balanced Growth’ Approach
The first view is the balanced growth approach. As part of liberal economic theory it is suggested that, by alleviating unemployment and providing economic support through remittances and development of migrants’ skills, migration enhances development in countries of origin and narrows inter country income disparities.

Systematic View
The second view is the systematic view which does not agree that migration, through remittances and return of skills, automatically accelerates development in the country of origin. Instead, it suggests that migration often distorts the development process through ‘brain drain’ and widening of income disparities.

Nevertheless, in this study the focus has been given on the first approach and the endeavor has been made to comprehend the positive impacts of migration on economic and social development. In fact, migration can expedite the economic and social development of a country through following two ways:
  • Remittances; and
  • Returns.