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Migration, Territories and Development: In Search of a New Model for Interactions

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Jan 16, 2015 / 0 Comments

[EPISODE 4] How Are Development and Migration Linked?




What are we going to discuss? International migration, diasporas, development, migrants’ territories of origin, host countries…and links that migrants forge each day involving all these elements. We will discuss these issues in 8 posts. Please feel free to comment, criticize, make suggestions, question, agree, or disagree. This is a space to make your voice heard.


What are the relationships and connections between development and migration?


The approach presented here is drawn from my experience as a development actor in a migrant NGO (Migrations & Développement, M&D[1]) and my research as a development economist. It is based on the following assumptions:


Development is fundamentally a domestic matter: I disagree with the standard approach, whereby underdevelopment is linked to a series of ‘shortcomings’ that can be addressed by foreign assistance (financing, knowledge). The history of development doctrines conceived in the North and implemented in the South over the past 60 years identified a succession of ‘shortcomings’ that are thought to plague countries in the South and have been assessed based on the implicit standard used by developed countries. The lack of savings in the 1960s and 1970s was followed by the lack of macroeconomic equilibrium in the 1980s, the lack of market openness and freedom in the 1990s, and the lack of ‘good governance,’ capacity, and rights during the 2000-2010 period. An analysis of these ‘shortcomings’ was used as the basis for development policies designed in the North and implemented and supported by trillions of dollars in the South, to little effect as we have seen.


The history of the past 60 years, and in particular that of the successful takeoff of East Asian economies, clearly shows that it is not a response to ‘shortcomings’ that led to the emergence of these societies, but the homegrown (often authoritarian) formulation of a shared strategic vision that is implemented on the basis of the countries’ potential.


Each society therefore sets its own priorities and designs its own tools for its development (or non-development), seeking proven solutions elsewhere if necessary. However, in order to be part of a development process, this approach involving imported external solutions must be homegrown.


Development—and not migration—must be the starting point. It is by considering all aspects of the development process of societies in both the North and South as the starting point that we can understand migration and its potential contribution to the development process. In other words, migration cannot be the starting point of the development process; rather, it should be viewed as a possible catalyst for development.


Migrants cannot be viewed as actors who will initiate the development of their country on their own. There is also no reason why the proportion of entrepreneurs should be higher among migrants than among other population groups.


So, how should the relationship between development and migration be viewed?


This blog series consists of 8 episodes:

  1. 1. Migration: a multifaceted phenomenon
  2. 2. A gradual change in migration and how it is perceived
  3. 3. Migration: a problem or a reflection of societies? 
  4. 4. How Are Development and Migration Linked? 
  5. 5. Migrants as a catalyst for development in a country 
  6. 6. How Can Migration Be More Forcefully Linked with Development of the Home Country? 
  7. 7. Communities for Shared Development as a response to the new features of the territory and the Diasporas
  8. 8. Extending the Concept of Communities for Shared Development to the Rest of the World 


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