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.