People all over the globe have been migrating for centuries within and between countries and continents. This movement, whether domestically or internationally, occurs for various reasons and has several positive and negative effects, both on the receiving (host) and the sending (home) countries and/or regions. Internal (domestic) migration, largely characterized by rural-urban movement, is strongly associated with industrialisation and urbanisation while international migration, especially to wealthy countries is motivated by the forces of globalisation across international borders.
There are far more migrants in the world today ever than previously recorded, and their numbers have increased rapidly in the last few decades. Although there is no global estimate for internal migration due to data unavailability, to put the scale of internal migration into perspective, the 2001 Indian census shows more than 300 million people were classified as internal migrants, representing 30 percent of India’s population. In China, since the 1980s, 163.4 million people were estimated to have moved from interior and coastal regions and it is estimated another 240 million will become city dwellers by 2025. In the meantime, international migration has also become a big phenomenon in the last decade or so. According to the 2015 Department of Economics and Social Affairs of the United Nations, there are estimated 244 million international migrants worldwide. This mass migration, both within and between countries, is shaping the type of development taking place in local and national levels. Most contemporary research demonstrate that migration supports economic growth and development.
In countries where a substantive population is rural, temporary and permanent migration between villages in rural areas and rural to urban areas are evident as it offers a variety of work opportunities, higher wages and better education for the children. From a rural perspective, the poorest rural groups, often move between rural areas on a seasonal basis to take advantage of demand for waged agricultural labour. At the same time, poor rural people who lose their livelihoods due to climatic events, and limited prospects in rural areas, constitute a growing proportion of rural–urban migrants. There are also migrants from the wealthiest groups of the rural areas that move for better employment and educational purposes.In the former case, the migration between villages is usually seasonal but more permanent for rural urban. A large number of urban residents on the other hand, rely on low-paid, long hours, insecure and unsafe jobs. In most cases they are exposed to a wide range of environmental hazards and live in settlements that lack adequate basic infrastructure and access to services.
In host countries, migration has rejuvenated workforces, energised economically viable traditional sectors such as agriculture and services, promoted entrepreneurship, supported social security and welfare schemes and met the demand for skills from emerging high tech industries. In home countries, positive contributions of migration are reﬂected in increased income from remittances, which contribute towards improved housing, nutrition, schooling and health care. The effect of returning migrants benefits the countries of origin and the community, as human capabilities (skills and knowledge), financial and social capital (contacts and access to networks) represents another potential development resource.
Despite the positive experiences of many migrant workers, not all impacts are favourable. A significant number of migrants are exposed to exploitation by unscrupulous recruiters or employers, absence of social protection, and denial of workers’ rights, as well as social inclusion. Large scale immigration can pose serious challenges to cities and regions, affecting national identity, sovereignty and increasing the burden of providing public services.
Whether or not migration flows contribute to development depends on how they are managed through appropriate policy intervention in both regions/countries of origin and host nations. Effective policy interventions are essential to ensure the protection of migrants, the integration of migrants into the region/country of destination, the support for sustainable voluntary return and the greater interlinking between migration and development. Yet these interventions need to be rigorously monitored and evaluated to allow for learning and corrections.
The future of migration in respect to development and social welfare, together with its opportunities and challenges, is the subject of this conference. This conference aims to develop an understanding of the migration framework at the domestic and international levels by focusing on the capacities that are, and will be needed, to manage the movement of people, together with the opportunities and challenges. The conference focuses on six main areas of migration where change is expected to yield particular challenges: retirement, education, labour mobility, irregular migration, welfare development, governance and human rights.
This Conference aims to:
Explore the contemporary trends and patterns of domestic and international migration on cities and regions;
Highlight the consequences of international migration in its different forms on the host and home economies;
Identify the social and cultural dimensions of domestic and international migration including policies and practices related to assimilation, integration (and non-integration), multiculturalism, transnationalism and citizenship.
Assess traditional and innovative welfare policy responses to guide future migration policies.