Seminar: Professor Stephen Castles, "The ‘migration and development mantra’: South-North migration as a solution for underdevelopment?"

Past Event

29 November 2007, 4:30pm - 6:00pm

Lecture Theatre, Oxford Martin School
34 Broad Street (corner of Holywell and Catte Streets), Oxford, OX1 3BD

Professor Stephen Castles, Director of the International Migration Institute

Abstract: Until recently, most analyses of migration from less-developed to more-developed countries indicated that it mainly brought benefits for receiving countries, by providing them with scarce skills (through the ‘brain drain’), and low-skilled labour for jobs not attractive to nationals. Countries of origin, on the other hand, often lost the ‘brightest and best’, which could hold back development.

In the last few years, however, migration has been re-defined as a ‘win-win-win’ situation, in which all participants gain: receiving countries through a supply of skills and labour; migrants through increased incomes and training opportunities, and the countries of origin through remittances and technology transfer that contribute to poverty reduction and development. Critics refer to this new dominant view as the ‘migration and development mantra’.

This paper will examine the various components of the debate: economic remittances, social remittances (transfer of ideas and attitudes), brain circulation and circular migration. It will show how mobility of people is embedded in much broader processes of social transformation linked to economic globalisation, new global power relationships and technological change. Migration alone cannot bring poverty reduction and development, unless a wide range of economic and political factors hindering development are addressed.