The final conference of the IS Academy Migration and Development project was held in Maastricht from 22-24 January 2014, with sessions focusing on Afghanistan, Burundi, Ethiopia, Morocco and the Netherlands, and themes such as remittances, entrepreneurship and diasporas. Under the banner “A World in Motion”, the aim was to share analysis of project data and examine results from other research conducted around the world.
The conference kicked off on Wednesday 22 January with welcome speeches by Prof. Bart Verspagen, Director of UNU-MERIT, Prof. Wim Naudé, Director of the Maastricht School of Management, and René Spitz from the Dutch Foreign Ministry. These were followed by keynote speeches by Dr. Melissa Siegel, who runs the migration research group at UNU-MERIT, and Prof. Valentina Mazzucato, from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Maastricht University. See the full programme here (PDF)
Interviews and lectures are available on the links below.
DAILY SUMMARIES - KEYNOTES
Day One: 22 January
Prof. Verspagen reflected on the project’s achievements over the last five years, and how it had brought together numerous partners from the worlds of academia and policymaking. He stressed the continued relevance of IS Academy themes for the post-2015 development agenda.
Dr. Siegel summarized the project’s main findings, including how migrants’ experience abroad impacts both the wellbeing of those left behind and their own reintegration upon return. Prof. Mazzucato presented her research on transnational families, before stressing the need for multi-sided approaches to explain the development impacts of migration.
Day Two: 23 January
Dr. Vargas-Silva noted how forced migrants are unlike voluntary migrants in terms of their self-selectivity (i.e. their desire to migrate), their ability to invest in their own education and training, and the role of the state in their mobility. These fundamental differences imply various expectations about the labour market outcomes of forced vs. voluntary migrants. He said there was a dearth of research on the economics of forced migration, limited to specific displacement and conflict areas including Colombia, Uganda, and Tanzania, which has tended to focus either on the labour market outcomes of refugees/IDPs or on the economic outcomes of host communities.
Prof. Skeldon questioned the belief that highly-skilled migrants are more “desirable”, because they enhance the local labour market and are more likely to integrate than their lower-skilled counterparts. This view isolates skilled migration as a specific kind of flow, when in reality various types of migration are inter-linked and sometimes inter-dependent. He added that there will always be a “churn” in migration, particularly among the highly-skilled who are able to migrate to other locations or to return home. Rather than fixating on retaining highly-skilled migrants, policy makers should focus on encouraging future migration, partly by recognising the interconnected nature of low- and highly-skilled migration.
More summaries to follow. See videos below for keynote lectures and interviews.
DAILY SUMMARIES - SESSIONS
Parallel Session I (A): Afghanistan
Dr. Melissa Siegel opened the parallel session on Afghanistan with evidence from a study of how returning migrants fare on different dimensions of wellbeing. Craig Loschmann followed up with a presentation on the case of returning refugees receiving Shelter Assistance in order to re-establish themselves in Afghanistan. Both pieces of research indicated that returnees in Afghanistan are not worse off than their non-migrant counterparts and that in fact other sources of vulnerability are more pressing for policy makers than those resulting from mobility and return.
Examining the issue of returnees as agents of change, Marieke van Houte presented findings from a qualitative study into the capacity of returnees from Europe to effect positive (and negative) change in Afghanistan. Her presentation highlighted a contradiction in the policy of expecting rejected asylum seekers to be change-makers upon returning to Afghanistan. A lively discussion ensued as to how involuntary returnees can be supported to bring about positive change in Afghanistan, taking into account the limits of politicians and policy makers to address this issue in the European context.
Parallel Session I (B): Burundi
Tove Heggli Sagmo looked at the adaptation capacity of migrants returning to Burundi and noted the varying importance of the role played by the network in relation to composition and size. He said that expectations of returnees in Burundi with regards to social networks are frequently not met and that returnees are often forced to form new networks, which is a complex and time consuming process.
In his presentation on remittances, development and poverty alleviation for highly-skilled migrants in Burundi, Etienne Burugeya said that while it is easy to determine the major determinants of remittances from highly-skilled migrants (some are positive, some are negative), it is very hard to measure the effects of those remittances on development and poverty alleviation. He recommended further research on the topic as well as on diaspora mapping and engagement.
Sonja Fransen followed up with a presentation on the economic sustainability of refugee return in Burundi, based on a study that found clear differences at household and community levels. On the household level, first and second generation returnee households are less likely to own land and also reported lower subjective wealth levels. At the community level, all households in communities with high levels of returnees have had worse living conditions than communities with low levels of returnees. With the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Burundi, reintegration remains a challenging process. The study recommends a wider approach at household and community levels when searching for sustainable solutions.
Parallel Session I (C): Ethiopia
Mulugeta Bezabih Mekonnen, Lisa Andersson, Girmachew Zewdu, Katie Kuschminder gave four different presentations looking at various aspects of migration issues affecting Ethiopian migrants and their families. They found that migration and remittances substantially improve migrant families’ welfare, and that the governments of countries of migration need strategies to channel migrant funds into investment and so reduce the attendant negative impacts. They also found a need for assistance for the reintegration of returned migrants in countries of migration.
Parallel Session I (D): The Netherlands
Masood Gheasi presented the results of his study on the importance of cultural capital for tertiary education attainment and labour market performance in the Netherlands. The surprising results indicated that second generation migrants have worse education and labour market outcomes, possibly due to the difference in cultural capital obtained from parental roots, despite being integrated in society.
In her case analysis of au pairs in the Netherlands, Djamila Schans found that the overall experience of the programme is positive, yet with great variations. She said this kind of programme could help establish links between migration and development, as it is one of the few opportunities for legal migration for third country youngsters.
Using IS Academy data, Ozge Bilgili identified interesting links between the economic integration of migrants in the Netherlands and the economic relationships they maintain with their home countries. She drew attention to the positive correlation and the possibility of simultaneous embeddedness of migrants in both host and home countries.
Parallel Session II (A): Remittances I
The first session on remittances brought together three studies on the impacts and implications of remittances for development. Dr. Andy McKay presented a paper comparing remittance receiving in eight countries, with an emphasis on the potential of internal remittances to alleviate poverty. Paulina Pankowska followed this with results from a study on remittances in Moldova, which had found income inequality reducing effects among the poorest households.
Sonja Fransen’s presentation on Burundi also found remittances to be associated with improvement in household wealth and wellbeing indicators. She discussed the nuances in the Burundi case, which led to an exchange on the possibility of results being misleading due to the ‘ceiling’ effect (whereby households with a current migrant may already be at the upper end of indicators used to measure improvement in wellbeing).
Parallel Session II (B): Return and Post Conflict I
The first session on return and post conflict comprised four presentations by Katie Kuschminder, Marieke van Houte, Oliver Bakewell and Ayla Bonfiglio, Giulia Sinatti. Examining specific return and post conflict situations in Ethiopia, Afghanistan, the African Great Lakes region and Senegal, the session found that to understand people’s aspirations and social norms about migration, it is necessary to explore attitudes and expectations. The speakers also found no clear cut division between voluntary and involuntary return, and that return migrants can achieve social change under the right conditions. They also found two factors to be overestimated: first the amount and nature of capital acquired abroad, and second the role of structural factors in shaping returnees’ investments.
Parallel Session II (C): Diaspora
Nina Sahraoui presented a study on Moroccan emigrants and their engagement in development. The study showed how the focus shifted from supporting integration to promoting development and how these changes may be related to diaspora engagement policies from Morocco.
By analysing the engagement of the Pakistani diaspora in development in Norway, Marta Bivand Erdal showed that diaspora engagement policies do not always meet migrants´ practices.
In her presentation on transnationalism and engagement in the country of origin, Xenia Pilipenko analysed the Georgian diaspora in three destination countries – Germany, Greece and Turkey. She showed that Georgian migration patterns and diasporas differ in several characteristics in these three countries.
Parallel Session II (D): Migration and Development
Examining examples from Colombia, Caroline Caplan discussed the actors involved in creating spaces for diaspora building aimed at knowledge sharing.
Andrea Milan presented the results from the project “Where the Rainfalls”, which investigates the circumstances under which households use migration as a risk management strategy in response to increasing rainfall variability and food insecurity, and stressed the need for further literature in this area.
Frank Abumere reflected on the relationship between migration and resource curse beyond the positive impacts of remittances and migration for development, stressing the need for a systematic approach to establish the causation between migration and resource curse.
Parallel Session III (A): Remittances II
In the second remittances session a cluster of papers were presented on remittances from a macro-economic perspective in Central and South Asia. The first, by Mazhar Mughal, focused on the link between fertility and remittance receipt in Pakistan and found evidence in support of migrant households having different fertility preferences.
Jakhongir Kakhkharov interrogated the assumptions behind current measurement instruments for remittances and emphasized their unsuitability in the case of seasonal migration the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Junaid Ahmed used variations on the Gravity Model to illustrate the importance of destination and origin country factors in predicting remittance levels and noted the high significance of financial variations in remittance-receiving countries as an explanatory factor.
Parallel Session III (B): Return and Post Conflict II
Marta Bivand Erdal and Ceri Oeppen discussed the concept of forced vs. voluntary migration among Afghan and Pakistan migrants in Europe, and showed that these categories matter differently in different stages of migration.
Sonja Fransen presented a study on refugee return and social cohesion in Burundi, showing that against general assumptions, return migration had a positive impact on social cohesion in Burundi.
Eline Boersema and Rianne van Os analysed rejected asylum seekers and their return, finding that the number of returnees assisted by the IOM had increased and that Dutch policies had an impact on this result.
In her research Gea Wijers looked at the impacts of return on the transformation process in Cambodia, finding that returnees can be institutional entrepreneurs – though this does not always have a positive impact on the country.
Parallel Session III (C): Transnationalism
As a part of her PhD thesis, Ozge Biligi used IS Academy data to study the links between socio-cultural integration of migrants in the host country and their engagement with home country development. Her study suggests compatibility between multiple identifications and aspirations of people.
Using IS Academy data, Bram Dekker presented his study on the relationship between transnational practices and integration. Using an innovative multidimensional approach to transnationalism, Dekker’s study found no evidence to support the popular belief that transnational migrants are less integrated in host societies.
Margrietha t’Hart´s research confirms the theory of reactive transnationalism in relation to experiences of discrimination among migrants in the Netherlands, which in turn feed negative identifications with the local community.
In her anthopological study, Shelene Gomes conducted network analysis among Rastafari communities in Ethiopia, particularly in the context of migration.
Parallel Session III (D): Migration Policy I
In the first session on migration policy, Ayla Bonfiglio presented her migration scenario methodology. The iterative procedure presents future scenarios based on megatrends which may influence future migration streams. The value lies in focusing the minds of stakeholders and enabling them to talk through possible issues and consider the consequences on migration.
Angela Paparuosso presented qualitative data concerning the views of both Moroccan and Egyptian migrants on Italian immigration policies. The data focused on what immigrants thought were the intended and unintended consequences of national immigration policies, and whether they thought those policies were fair or not.
Parallel Session IV (D): Migration Policy II
Prof. Hein de Haas presented the results of an empirical research project carried out in collaboration with Matias Czaika on the effects of visa policies on immigration and emigration dynamics. The study showed that visa requirements reduce immigration and emigration and immigration reducing effects are partly counterbalanced by emigration reducing effects. It confirmed the reverse flow substitution hypothesis, namely that restrictions decrease circularity, and that the effect from visa requirements partially neutralizes business cycle effect. The research project concluded that it takes time for migration to be affected by visa policies and that asymmetric adjustment processes come into play.
Looking at the issue of migration control, Tendayi Bloom investigated the effects on stateless persons of contracting migration policies to private agents. Some possible consequences are that (irregular) movements become practically more difficult and that migration states become more removed from state processes. The increasing delegation of migration business to private agents also means that the state does not need to take unpleasant decisions or to be explicit about policy. Bloom’s research also found an increased input of private companies in the formulation of policy and noted increased difficulties in asylum seeking processes.
Noting that the smaller number of female labour migrants to the Netherlands compared to male labour migrants, Roel Jennissen investigated the indirect discrimination of women in the Dutch labour migration policy. The difference in numbers appears to lie in the fact that partners of labour migrants are mostly not allowed to work unless they have a permit as well, which prevents potential female labour migrants from entering the labour market.
Parallel Session V (B): Entrepreneurship
Peter Oderinde presented a case study examining the contribution of Nigerian entrepreneurs and professionals to the economy of South Africa in the period 1994-2013. The study showed that Nigerian immigrants tend to be seen as job takers, (drug) criminals and business competitors. Interviews with two Nigerian migrant associations along ethno-religious lines indicated the existence of social assistance in the form of charity activities, monitoring of erring members and thrift and credit networks. The study found that although Nigerian immigrants bring in more intellectual capital, business and demand for goods and services, they also suffer from acts of racism, stereotypes and police abuse.
Amanda Bisong looked at the role of migration partnerships in promoting returnee entrepreneurs, by focusing on the partnership between Nigeria and Switzerland. After witnessing an increased number of Nigerian asylum seekers, especially of internally disp! laced persons, IOM Berne and IOM Nigeria decided to implement an Assisted Voluntary Return & Reintegration (AVRR) programme targeting unsuccessful asylum seekers and refugees in Switzerland. Based on the assumption that these were mainly low-skilled,economic migrants, the programme provided counselling in business planning and registration, selecting viable business plans, financial support for business start-up, skills training (pre and post return). The programme contributed to the creation of micro businesses in Nigeria but challenges remain. The low survival rate of SMEs in Nigeria – less than 5% – raises questions of policy sustainability.
Katrin Marchand and Craig Loschmann analysed the occupational choices of returnees in Afghanistan by comparing the occupation of returnees and those who did not migrate. Based on IS Academy data, their study found that among the more than 6 million returnees since 2002, 48% are under-employed and 77% are working in conditions of vulnerable employment. The study looked at occupational choices in terms of necessity vs. opportunity and at the number of returnees engaged in entrepreneurship or self-employment activities in business or agriculture. The finding showed that returnees have a higher probability to be employed, and that the higher educated and voluntary returnees especially tend to be self-employed. All in all, however, the study did not show any big differences between returnees and non-migrants in occupational choices.
Parallel Session V (A): Remittances IV
Lisa Andersson investigated whether international remittances stimulate private transfers, based on panel data evidence from Ethiopia. Her study showed that receiving international remittances leads to an increase in the sending of household private transfers. This increase, however, did not apply in the case of internal remittances. The stimulation of private transfers appeared to be especially true for low educated rather than highly educated households.
Alellie B. Sobreviñas examined the effects of remittances on poverty reduction, based on evidence from the community-based monitoring system (CBMS) data in selected communities in the Philippines. She found that overall, migration and remittances reduce poverty, noting that the magnitude of poverty reduction depends on the counterfactual method used. The most preferred method was the one-third scenario which controls for selection bias. The study showed however, that not all households benefit from migration remittances, some non-poor households becoming poor and other poor households remaining poor.
Robin Harper and Hani Zubida adopted a new approach to remittances, taking the view that remittances do not solely serve financial purposes but should be also seen as a social phenomenon linked with the topic social visibility or invisibility. Their study argues that remittances can serve as a mechanism that fulfills the migrant’s need to play a social role. Migrants suffer ambiguous sense of loss from the home country but they also remain on the periphery of the new country – they become invisible. When remitting, they become present in the lives of those left behind and are seen as the money and security providers – they become visible in the home country. Remittances patterns change when the remittance service no longer provides visibility benefits e.g. when the value diminishes or when the costs exceed the benefits.
Images: UNU/S.Brodin; UNU/H.Pijpers; UN Photo/S.Noorani
Videos: UNU / H.Hudson