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New study suggests that globalization has not raised global rates of migration

Posted September 17, 2014
Picture: Danish emigrants waiting to board their ship. Author: Edvard Petersen. Year: 1890. Source:

Picture: Danish emigrants waiting to board their ship. Author: Edvard Petersen. Year: 1890. Source:

It is frequently argued that processes of globalization have significantly raised rates of international migration and made it more complex and diverse: Division between Exodus and destination countries gradually disappears and bilateral movement corridors are replaced by larger number of travel routes. However, new empirical study carried out by researchers at the University of Oxford reveals that the real picture of international migration is quite different.

„This article has observed an essential paradox: While most countries now generate significant emigration, the total volume of international migration has not increased in relative terms, whereas migrants tend to concentrate in a shrinking number of prime destination countries,“ scientists claim.

„While there is broad consensus that the volume, diversity, geographical scope, and overall complexity of migration have increased under the influence of broader globalization processes, these assumptions have not been subjected to systematic empirical assessment,“ authors of the new study published in the International Migration Review say.

Nonetheless, this view should not be taken for granted. Results of previous research suggest that it can be seriously flawed. For instance, one of the studies revealed that percentage of people, who does not live in their country of origin is very small and stable over time. Inspired by such findings Mathias Czaika and Hein de Haas working at the International Migration Institute explored data from Global Bilateral Migration Database, which contains statistics representing 226 different countries.

Study found that the proportion of migrants diminished during the second half of twentieth century. „While the absolute number of international migrants has increased from 93 million in 1960 to 167 million in 2000 – which is an 80 percent increase – the world population has actually grown faster from 2.98 billion to 6.07 billion, which is a 104 percent increase,“ scholars explain.

Significant regional changes occured. Western Europe managed to transform itself from the centre of expatriation to the magnet of attraction. Gulf area has become very popular destination place as well. Meanwhile, South America has lost their positions and became an exile region. Somewhat unsurprisingly, immigration to Africa declined too.

Results also indicate that spread of migration has expanded. Although number of countries touched by emigration has grown, a closer look shows that individuals are mainly travelling to the particular target countries, such as United States, Germany or the United Arab Emirates. „Findings suggest that the world has not become necessarily more migratory, but that migration has become more “skewed” on a global level,“ researchers conclude.

Article: Czaika M. and de Haas H., 2014, The Globalization of Migration: Has the World Become More Migratory?. International Migration Review, 48: 283–323. doi: 10.1111/imre.12095, source link.

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