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Migration and Development Framework and Its Links to Integration

Russell King and Michael Collyer


Both historically and still today, migration is driven by economics. One of Ravenstein's famous laws of migration went simply thus: 'The major causes of migration are economic'[1]. Whilst it is true, in this late-modern era, that people migrate for a greater diversity of reasons, including education, lifestyle, love, or a warmer climate, the primacy of “economic migration” remains, not least in political discourse and in discussions over how migration should be managed. In the UK, for instance, the term “economic migrants”, said with emphasis on the “economic”, is applied to people whose influx should be rigidly controlled, even suppressed, except when there is an anticipated benefit to the economy, as in the aftermath of European Union (EU) enlargement in 2004[2].

This continuous stress on migration as a fundamentally economic process is an enduring explanation of why most migration takes place (to escape poverty and unemployment, to improve incomes and life-chances, etc.), but it says very little about the effects of migration, especially on the countries, regions, and communities of origin of the migrants, and on their family members left behind. The economic frame of reference, with its emphasis on (un)employment, incomes, and labour markets, says even less about other important dimensions of migration, such as migrants' social integration in the host country and what this, in turn, might mean for their relationship with their home country.

The connection between the succinct interpretation of integration set out by Penninx and Garcés-Mascareñas in Chap. 2 of this volume (on the process of becoming an accepted part of society) and the predominantly economic understanding of migration and development is not always clear. One of our central arguments in this chapter is that the overall approach to migration and development in both applied and theoretical terms has fluctuated with different understandings of the nature, forms, and processes of integration. We follow other theoretical overviews of migration and development in characterizing this relationship as a swinging pendulum (De Haas 2012; Gamlen 2014).

We first look at how the relationship between migration and development (henceforth M&D) has been seen theoretically, tracing how this analysis has swung between positive and negative interpretations over the seven decades of the European post-war era. Throughout this historical-theoretical treatment, we privilege three processes as potential triggers of home-country development: remittances, return migration, and diaspora involvement. We then broaden the dual conceptual lens of M&D: we refocus migration and return as encompassing a diversity of transnational mobilities; we reconceptualize development as being less about economic measures and more about human wellbeing; and we broaden our analysis of remittances from financial transfers to include social, cultural, and political elements. The final part of the chapter aims at a synthesis between the M&D frame, on the one hand, and the integration frame, on the other. Here, we ask two questions. First, how does the multifaceted integration process impact on migrants' capacity to stimulate development in their home countries and communities? Second, for those migrants who return-migrate or who lead multi-sited transnational lives, what are the challenges to their reintegration in their countries of origin?

  • [1] Ravenstein's original papers were published in 1885and 1889. For an accessible and sympathetic critique see Grigg (1977).
  • [2] After the 2004 enlargement, the UK, Ireland, and Sweden immediately opened their labour markets to the entry of workers from the ten accession countries. A much larger influx than expected took place, especially of Poles to the UK and Ireland. Nevertheless, these labour migrants helped to underpin the economic boom that lasted until the 2008 financial crisis. For an in-depth analysis of this East–west development-inducing migration, see Black et al. (2010), Galgoczi et al. (2009), and Glorius et al. (2013).
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