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European Regional Master's Degree in Democracy and Human Rights in South East Europe
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Migration and Development Links: Conceptual Evolution and Criticisms in an Historical Perspective

by: Endri Xhaferaj
PhD in “Diversity Management and Governance”, University of Bologna


Introduction

The current relationship between migration and development has rightly been characterized as “unsettled” (Papademetriou and Martin, 1991). Since the publication of the influential Ascencio report, a new consensus has arisen that rather than stemming or containing migration pressure, development can stimulate migration in the short term by raising people’s expectations and by enhancing the resources that are needed to move (Ascencio, 1990; see also OECD, 1992; IOM, 1996). Some of the work known as the “new economics of migration” suggests that the demand for remittances from migrants, for example, increases as development proceeds and both investment opportunities and returns on investment increase. Thus, by enhancing development, remittances may therefore propel or perpetuate migration. Put another way, there is a “migration hump” (Martin, 1997; Martin and Taylor, 2001; Martin and Widgren, 2001) that must be overcome before people are encouraged to stay, put by the development of their homelands and migration begins to decline. Accompanying this view, models of migration based on economic forces such as pull and push factors have been supplemented by approaches recognizing mediating factors such as social networks, improved communication and transportation linkages, trade competition between countries, government migration policies, and violent conflicts within countries, yielding a more dynamic analysis of how migrations begin, how and why they stop or continue, and the extent to which migration can be controlled.As migration has steadily climbed up the European public and policy agenda, it has become increasingly recognized that migration can be affected – intentionally or not – by interventions in the kindred arenas of development policy and assistance, as well as by wider policies and practice in the foreign and domestic spheres. Yet, the precise links among these arenas of policy and practice, not least in terms of cause and effect, are imperfectly understood by analysts as much as by policymakers.

 

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This paper will try to analytically describe the different migration-development links. The first paragraph will be focused on the concepts of Recruitment-Remittances-Return, whilst the second paragraph will entail the different phases of the migration-development link in an historical perspective. The third paragraph will be focused on the conceptual shift from development into transnational term. Finally some critical views of this latter commonly used concept will be reported.

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