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Foreign aid 'less effective than expected' at curbing migration, study says

Research casts doubt on received wisdom that support for low-income countries stops people leaving to seek a better life

Europe’s policy of using overseas aid to persuade people to stay in their own countries has been challenged by research suggesting the strategy may instead encourage migration.

A new paper by the development economist Michael Clemens and his colleague Hannah Postel for the Center for Global Development suggests that, far from discouraging migration from the poorest countries to the developed world, foreign aid programmes may actually accelerate it.

The paper – entitled Can Development Assistance Deter Migration? – turns on its head the key assumption of much EU assistance policy, arguing that “economic development in low-income countries typically raises migration”.

The new research by Clemens and Postel suggests that, while “greater youth employment may deter migration in the short term for countries that remain poor”, that effect is both temporary and negligible in its effects on migration.

Instead, they argue, “sustained overall development” shapes “income, education, aspirations, and demographic structure” in ways that actually encourage emigration.

In contrast to the short-term effect delivered by decreasing youth unemployment in the poorest countries, say Clemens and Postel, the longer-term impact that encourages migration can last for generations, with the pressures contributing to migration only beginning to drop as countries develop beyond middle-income status.

The paper calls for a complete rethink of strategies based on deterring migration and argues instead for new policies that shape how migration takes place.

The research appears to offer a direct challenge to the approach – notably adopted by the EU – of attempting to target aid towards “root causes” of migration, which the two writers suggest are ill-defined in aid project mandates.

One case study cited by Clemens and Postel is the , which identifies four key policy areas: employment creation, basic local service provision, migration management, and governance – including conflict prevention and border management – but with little hard evidence of its real effectiveness.

That €1.9bn (£1.6bn) fund, which makes money available for 117 projects in 26 African countries, and was created by EU leaders in 2015 to stem the flow of people making the dangerous Mediterranean crossing to Italy, was by Oxfam as lacking transparency.

Clemens and Postel go further, challenging the fundamental logic of such schemes. Despite the political rhetoric of targeting aid to prevent migration, which has gained more currency since the Mediterranean crisis, the authors argue that “migration-relevant sectors” do not seem to receive more funding in major migrant-origin countries than the average aid recipient.

The research also raises questions about the apparent success of key programmes, not least efforts to increase youth employment, arguing: “Job creation programmes are often less effective than expected, and there is no indication that aid can improve these outcomes.

“Though occasionally intensive job training has reduced youth unemployment, there is scant evidence that such programmes can be scaled up to achieve national impacts.”

On the issue of aid encouraging migration, Clemens and Postel added: “Even if aid could affect migration-relevant development outcomes in principle, we would still need to know that these changing conditions drive migration in practice.

“We therefore need to understand the two major ways people in poor countries use migration to improve their economic lives: investment and insurance.

As an investment, families exchange upfront costs for large but delayed income gains from overseas work. This suggests a complex relationship between migration and economic development.

“Greater economic opportunity at home may decrease the incentive to invest in working abroad, but may also make such an investment more feasible.”

They argue, too, that while emigration from middle-income countries is “typically much higher than from poor countries”, “development does more to encourage migration in the poorest contexts than to stem it”.

Fonte: The Guardian - 14/02/2018

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BIBLIOTECA

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O CSEM possui uma biblioteca especializada em migrações abrangendo em seu acervo aproximadamente 3 mil livros, periódicos e revistas científicas de vários países. 

Para consultar nossa biblioteca online visite o site da biblioteca e pesquise em nosso acervo.Horário de funcionamento: segunda a sexta-feira, das 9h às 17h


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