FAU Annual Seminar

Migration and Development: Have we got it right?

December 12, 2017, 14.00-16.00


Venue: Danish Institute for International Studies

Østbanegade 117, Copenhagen Ø, opposite Nordhavn Station


Migration is a key issue in Denmark’s development strategy, and significantly influences the way the media and the Danish development community approach and debate a number of other issues – such as conflict, fragility and poverty. Two key assumptions are that (i) development cooperation can help address the root causes of migration, and that (ii) this is important to do for the welfare of all.

What if these assumptions are wrong? Some research-based evidence suggests that, in the shorter term, economic development may in fact lead to more migration. It also suggests that migration is good for development in the countries of origin. This raises a number of questions: Does it mean that development cooperation is wasting its time by focusing on migration – and perhaps even doing more bad than good?  Or is this an erroneous conclusion, which ignores that migration may also lead to much hardship and loss of life? And what does the difference between so-called economic migration and forced displacement mean in this respect?

The seminar will discuss what research actually tells us on the relationship between migration and development, and what the implications are for development policy and practice.


14:00-14.10    Welcome by Annette Skovsted Hansen, Aarhus University, Spokesperson for FAU


        14.10-14.30  Ninna Nyberg Sørensen, Senior Researcher, DIIS: “What does research say about migration and economic development, and what does it mean for how we talk about solutions?”

  • Migration is a part of development research
  • More acknowledged now than earlier
  • Assumptions made in research of the link between migration and research
  • Many barriers for the migrant
    • Risky journey or manage to arrive but live under bad conditions
  • Does it mean that development cooperation is wasting its time by focusing on migration?
    • If research shows anything, it is that migration contributes to development
  • Today: Currency strategy think of this relationship whether it fits or not
    • On the Danish agenda
    • The strategy must have a migration management effect of the underline causes
    • Another strategy
  • World basic historically: Stabil situation
    • 3,3% today -> do we really have a crisis now?
  • It is true, that migrations from development countries are moving to more developmental countries (within the regions)
    • With that it is a good idea to make the countries better, nut no research shows that economic growth leads to less migration
      • How much economic regression in necessary to change the migration?
        • The mobility transmission (can take more than 100 years for LIC) and it takes 9000 USD to see migration pressure slow down
  • Keep in mind that measure of migration has become better
  • The humanitarian strategies need to have long term policies
  • Keep people in place may substantially help

  • There is an analytic confusion between migration due to economic crisis or war (no systematics distinction)

  • A report from earlier this year: The policy will not solve the problem, but in longer term….
    • Example between EU and Turkey
    • We may in the longer run put us self in a position with a much bigger flow. 

  1. Andreas Kamm, Former Secretary General, Danish Refugee Council: “The displacement           scenario – growing numbers, lack of joint action and pressure on well-known formulas.”
  • Imbalance between the number of displaced and the resources to protect and assist
  • The duration of protracted refugee crises are longer and numbers are increasing – today 66 million refugees
  • Growing number of migrants: in total 250 million (50 million irregular)
    • Those who are not invited are the problem.
    • The irregular flow is a challenge (the people who are not working)
    • Are we facing a shift in paradigm – towards continued mass displacement? Yes according to Andreas Kamm

  • The displacement challenge
    • New conflicts every year – we do not solve them and we are not close
    • Poverty: Young people in very poor countries tend to go to another country
    • Building bridges between poverty and conflict (?)
    • Climate change: Big challenge for the countries with no or too much water -> a lot of people have to move, but where would they go?

                  - Leaked to conflict (you are not welcome any places)

  • Status 2017:
    • High and growing numbers of refugees and migrants
    • Frozen conflicts and record long duration of refugee crises
    • Many failed international interventions and many failed states
    • Higher mobility among refugees and migrants
      • Easy to find your way: Communities all over – if they are refugees or not
      • Extraordinary pressure on host countries – and pressure on Europe
        • Pressure on values and the international rule of law
        • Danish/European democratic values

  • Displacement -> loss of rights and pressure on basic values
  • Refugees are in need of international protection
  • Irregular migrants are in need of “a future”
  • What about the “internally displaced”?

  • Respect for The Refugee Convention and its obligation
  • The “new” approach (The Refugee Compact) – changing roles
  • Pressure on the formulas
    • Return
    • Local integration (based on development)
      • Is it possible? Good ideas but a big challenge
      • Resettlement

  • The Keys:
    • Massive support to development and good governance
    • Burden sharing and responsibility sharing
    • Involvement of private sector
    • The migration response:
      • Respect for International Rule of Law
      • Accept of the obligation to take care of own citizens
      • Accept of state sovereignty
      • Massive development aid to countries of origin and transit countries (peace, security, good governance)
      • Stronger border controls and return mechanisms
      • Better opportunity for legal migration

  • Instead we:
    • Choose a national approach and toolbox
    • Undermine our values and principles
    • Weaken the big communities – UN, EU and others
    • There is a lot to do – and it is possible

14.50-15.00     Short break with refreshments

15.00-15.50     Plenary discussion. Moderator: Annette Skovsted Hansen

Questions and comments:

1) Poverty and inequality in this context.

  • Inequalities in countries are big. Inequality between countries is declining – but increase within countries. Inequality is that a factor for migration?
  • Two triggers:
    • Crime combined with corruption leads to more migration
    • A social network to which they can migrate
      • Whether or not they have access to an international network: Those who do not have an international network are those worst off and those who do not migrate.

            2) Development site:

  • Seen in terms of what comes out/not come out: agriculture. manufacturing etc. Going back in history and see, if we have missed out on providing opportunities to young people and others.
    • Takes a lot of rethinking on how to do this: For example look on water access - effective water supplies so people can pay for them and it is possible to turn water into a business). Important that high technology products fit into a village
    • Will a political solution result in what we want (based on research). We have to solve the political puzzle.

3) Economic growth vs migration

  • It is likely to think, that if the economy gets better, there will be fewer people coming
  • Why do they keep on coming?
    • No one tells the real story, which shows it’s good to migrate (migrants are not always telling the whole truth about living and working conditions)
    • There are examples of people telling to truth

4) Formal vs informal sector:

  • Address the young people and the informal sector. The answer for this it to make it formalized, but the question is how to support them. We have a lot of potential to push that sector

5) The well-educated move to countries with possibilities:

  • Make a shift to give more responsibility to the local government.
  • The social contrast between the individual and the state.
  • Policies that help both the government and the individual to invest in the home country

6) The developing countries do not prioritize their young people.

  • Young people are educated but cannot get a job. If there is many of them, there is a potential danger. Many governments are not interested in this.
  • Example: More people return to Mexico from the US than from Mexico to the US
    • Mexico has experienced economic growth and, now, migrants from Mexico are from the dangerous places in Mexico and no longer from elsewhere in Mexico.

7) Could we think of solutions so people only migrate for a short time?

  • Stricter policies lead to that nobody keeps moving.

8) Cost-benefit-analysis:

  • Migration is in general a good thing

15.50-16.00     Wrap up, by Søren Jeppesen, Copenhagen Business School, Spokesperson for FAU

  • There is a lot of studies that show what we can do but very little is getting done.
  • Comment: Other opinions too