Working Paper

International Labor Migration and Remittances Beyond the Crisis: Towards Development-friendly Migration Policies

Over the last two decades, remittances by migrant workers to their families have become an

important source of household incomes in many developing countries. At the economy-wide

level, remittances have sustained demand for local goods and services and contributed to

economic growth and poverty reduction. Unsurprisingly, in the current global recession,

employment opportunities and earnings of migrant workers have suffered – not least

because some important destination countries for migrant workers, including Russia, the

United States, and Spain, have been hit particularly hard by the global crisis. Many

destination countries have adopted policies to discourage further immigration and even push

out those immigrants already in the country. Such protectionist policies threaten to undo the

benefits that international labor migration has brought to both, home and destination

countries. - In this Policy Brief, we assess the extent of the decline in remittances and its impact on developing countries and review initial policy responses. On this basis, we propose policies for destination and home countries that take into account the long-term benefits of

international labor migration particularly for migrants and their home countries. We argue that

protectionist policies that shift the burden of adjustment onto labor migrants and their home

countries are inappropriate and ultimately self-defeating in an increasingly interdependent

world. Rather, host country governments should adopt a long-term perspective and gradually

expand opportunities for international labor migration, not limited to high-skilled workers.


Aslıhan Arslan
Alexandra Effenberger


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