Does foreign-aid deter migration?

A policy paper from the Center for Global Development suggests that foreign-aid increases the likelihood of migration from developing countries. Aid agencies can play a vital role in shaping migration by making it beneficial for all involved.

Economic development in low-income countries typically raises migration.

Evidence suggests that greater youth employment may deter migration in the short term for countries that remain poor. But such deterrence is overwhelmed when sustained overall development shapes income, education, aspirations, and demographic structure in ways that encourage emigration.

Emigration tends to slow and then fall as countries develop past middle-income. But most of today’s low-income countries will not approach that point for several decades at any plausible rate of growth.

Aid has an important role in positively shaping how migration happens. 

Aid agencies need to maximize the potential benefits of migration for everyone involved. They need to cooperate with migrant-origin countries to develop safe, lawful, and mutually beneficial channels for lower-skill labor mobility.

 

(From: Michael A. Clemens and Hannah M. Postel. 2018. “Deterring Emigration with Foreign Aid: An Overview of Evidence from Low-Income Countries.” CGD Policy Paper. Washington, DC: Center for Global Development. https://www.cgdev.org/publication/deterring-emigration-foreign-aid-overviewevidence-low-income-countries)

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