Positive Effects in Europe and Africa: The Impact of Migration on Local Development

The last weeks’ news have been dominated by the discussion triggered by the Lampedusa catastrophe, and by the aftermath of the typhoon Hayan in South-East Asia. Both events have in common that they put migration – in one way or another – in the focus.

The incidences close to the island Lampedusa in the middle of the mediterranean sea, started a long overdue discussion on how much responsibility Europe has towards migrants coming from Africa. Immigration laws are rarely clear and applicable, and European governments tend to tell each other that they are not capable of taking in more migrants, that they already spent too much on this issue, and that integration problems are too big already. On the other hand, countries such as Germany, are constantly claiming that they will face a shortage of labour in the near future, and that hundreds of apprenticeship positions each year cannot be filled. Additionally, from an economics perspective, it has been shown that emigration has positive effects for the countries of origin in various ways.

We can observe the latter in some form for the Philipines at the moment as well. Filipinos living abroad worldwide seem to have organized themselves in order to support their families back home with online petitions and campaigns, and fund-raising events. These movements cannot only be observed in times of emergencies but also on a regular basis.

Flore Gubert, from the Paris School of Economics, presented in November at Nova SBE a working paper on the possible impact of migrant’s associations in France on local development in Mali. She found, together with her coauthors, that emigration can promote the provision of public goods as it can promote development and growth in many other ways as for example an intensified degree of entrepreneurship, a higher demand for political accountability or higher incentives to attain a better level of education.

The driving forces for these movements have to be investigated further but we already know for sure that migration is not only a burden on European countries but should be rather viewed as a mechanism that brings many advantages that should be exploited in the proper way to help African countries develop.

The ongoing discussions on how to include migration in the post 2015 Millenium Development Goals are a first step in the right direction but to insure a well constructed framework for immigration laws and development aid, the discussion has to be passed on to a national level.


Written by Julia Seither, Nova SBE Master Student and NOVAFRICA Student Group