Duncan Green: 3 reasons migration is not on development agenda

People with their luggage in tow. The development community's view on migration has to change, according to Duncan Green, Oxfam GB's head of research. Photo by: Matthew Wilkinson / CC BY-ND

Is migration good or bad for development?

Depends on who is asked. But Duncan Green, Oxfam GB’s head of research, has identified three reasons why the issue seems to remain out of the development agenda.

  • One: Most people think poverty is the main reason for migration. For many development organizations, migration means poverty eradication efforts have been failing.

  • Two: Politicians fear public backlash and are therefore wary of supporting migration.

  • Three: Brain drain.

Of these, the last seems to be the most contentious. It is true that many migrants leave their home countries to seek better opportunities in a foreign land. This is most apparent in developing countries such as the Philippines, where professionals move to developed nations for better pay or a chance to further their skills.

By seeking better opportunities abroad, many of these migrants are able to lift themselves — and their families — out of poverty. In fact, the World Bank said remittances have been able to help developing countries “weather” the global financial storm.

But some believe migration hurts a country’s potential and economy. Developing countries lose skilled professionals, thereby hampering growth in industries and sectors. Citizens in developed nations, meanwhile, see migrants as competition for already scarce jobs — a particularly sensitive issue at a time of high unemployment in the United States and many countries in Europe.

Duncan is still “pretty baffled” by migration’s absence in the development agenda. But he does know one thing: The development community’s view on migration has to change.

What do you think? Should migration be on the development agenda? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.