World Economic Migration Review


Aug 17, 2010
World citizen!
In an era of globalization, economic or labour migration is on the rise. Due to lack of employment opportunities in developing countries and increased demands for low-wage workers in developed countries, youth, women and men are pursuing work in other countries in order to support themselves and their families back home.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that out of approximately 175 million migrants around the world, half of them are workers. Migrant workers not only contribute to the economies of their host countries, and the remittances* they send home augment their home economies. The ILO reports that remittances figured $223 billion in 2005, more than twice the level of international aid. Migrant workers are contributing to growing diasporas, dispersed communities abroad who have ties to both origin and host countries but without full membership in either.

Despite encouraging economic figures, international economic migration is not strictly regulated and the maltreatment of many migrant workers is common. Migrant workers are vulnerable to harassment, exploitation and human trafficking. Part of the reason for this is that migrant workers are not granted full citizenship in countries in which they settle.

In the Philippines, the local economy thrives off the exportation of the labour force, particularly women as domestic workers. Migrant Filipina domestic workers are employed in over 130 countries and provide care for children and the elderly in families, or sex work and companionship for men in rich Western and Asian countries. Male migrants work in heavy production or construction work primarily in the Middle East or parts of Asia.

In Europe, immigration policies have not always benefited migrant workers and there is significant racial and ethnic tension. But human trafficking and the solicitation of illegal youth workers has gone underground in a number of regions. Inter-country cooperation is needed to prevent human rights violations, trafficking and other illegal practices.

Skilled migrant workers are less vulnerable to exploitation, but their departure has deprived some developing countries of valuable labour needed for their own economies. Many of these well-educated and skilled workers are youth, who make up approximately 30% of the world’s migrants. This phenomenon is known as the ‘brain drain’, where a significant segment of skilled workers leave their home country for better opportunities in other countries.


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