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

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Jan 21, 2015 / 0 Comments

[EPISODE 5] Migrants As a Catalyst for Development




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.


Migrants cannot initiate the development of their home country


Academic studies on all countries show that, from a macroeconomic standpoint, migrants alone cannot propel their country of origin forward. In this regard, domestic factors are key.  Although migrants cannot initiate the process at the country level, they can “contribute to its success” by supporting the process once it has been launched: it is the robust development in countries such as South Korea, China, or Vietnam that makes them attractive to investors, researchers, or entrepreneurs who have emigrated from these countries.


In the absence of an overall country development process, contributions by migrants in their country of origin can be impactful if they are concentrated in a particular region.


Migrants can make a contribution to development at the regional level in particular


Migrants can make an important contribution in their home region, where actors can work closely together and personal bonds of trust can be established. This is how migrants can ‘get involved’ in the development approaches—by participating in the learning processes: their involvement is more intense in a defined area than in the country as a whole.


As members of societies in the South, they can participate in the homegrown development process and play a major role in a defined area as a driver and catalyst: migrants are familiar with their home society and, because they are members of this society, they can legitimately share knowledge acquired in the North, by decoding and recoding this knowledge, tailoring it to local norms in order to help strengthen learning mechanisms in several areas.


This knowledge transfer approach is a much-needed broader approach in order to examine the links between migration and development of the country of origin, which have often been regarded as mere money transfers.


Migrants in fact “do not only transfer money.” [1]  They are also conveyors of lifestyles, norms and values, and skills, and expand their networks in a transnational context. They also introduce new approaches to education (particularly for girls), health, fertility (transfer of practices promoting the host country’s trend of having smaller families – its transfer is contingent upon the type of demographic system in their host country).  They may be ‘active conveyors’ of practices acquired through their relations with the authorities in the host country, in local governance of their country of origin when they assume responsibilities in village associations or hold elective office in a commune...


They may also contribute to the development of their country of origin while in their host country by developing marketing channels for products from their home country or the home country of their parents.


These profound, subtle, uncertain, extremely diverse, organized, or implicit processes do not easily fit into the realm of public policies.[2]


[1]The catchphrase used by an international money transfer company.

[2] See also Jacques Ould Aoudia: Migrations et développement: fantasmes et réalités d’une pratique sociale universelle, in Le Maghreb dans les relations internationales, Khadija Mohsen-Finan (dir.), IFRI - CNRS Ed., Paris 2011.

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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