Migration and Development in the Asia-Pacific- An Australian Perspective

Graeme Hugo, Australian Population and Migration Research Centre, University of Adelaide

This paper argues that while the main drivers of economic development in the Asia-Pacific region will be sound development policy and good governance, migration can play a facilitating role at a national, but especially at a regional level within countries. It discusses the role of the demographic dividend and Asia-Pacific youth bulges in assisting development in the region and the potential role of migration in that context. It examines the evidence that migration has delivered development advantages to sending countries and regions through analysis of the effects of remittances, diaspora, interactions and return movements. There also is, however, evidence of brain drain effects having negative impacts. Nevertheless, it concludes that the potential positive effects of emigration on sending countries are being diluted because of poor quality governance of migration systems in the region. These include excessive rent taking at all stages of the migration process, corruption, lack of capacity in migration management and exploitation. The final part of the paper addresses the important issue of what needs to be done if the full potential of international migration to deliver development dividends to sending countries to the region is to be taken advantage of. This includes a changing in attitude towards migration which recognises its potential benefits, more development friendly migration policies at origins but especially at destinations, capacity building and a parametric improvement in migration management, greater bilateral and multilateral cooperation and more evidence-based decision making in policy and program development. A role for Australia in this is also discussed. Migration is not a substitute for good governance and sound socioeconomic policy in development of Asia Pacific nations but it can have positive outcomes in poverty reduction and improving the lives and prospects of many people.

About the speaker
Graeme Hugo is an ARC Australian Professorial Fellow, Professor of Geography and Director of the Australian Population and Migration Research Centre at the University of Adelaide. He is the author of over four hundred books, articles in scholarly journals and chapters in books, as well as a large number of conference papers and reports. He held an ARC Federation Fellowship between 2002 and 2007 and has held a number of positions with Federal Government Agencies and Committees. He is currently on the Australian Statistical Advisory Committee. He was appointed Deputy Chair of the Aged Care Financing Authority and a member of the National Sustainability Council in 2012.

Date: 16 April 2014

Time: 12:30 - 13:30


UNU-MERIT