25 May 2010

Research shows tightening UK immigration is unlikely to be successful

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A four-year research project by the Global Development Network (GDN) and the UK think tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), has found that people who migrate from developing countries greatly increase their own income as well as helping their families and communities back home.

UK immigration

Tightening UK immigration may not be successful, new research into the experience of migrants from developing countries has found.

The research project into immigration, which involved field work in seven countries, also found that negative impacts on development such as ‘brain drain’ are usually counter-balanced by benefits.

The report “Development on the Move” argues that migration should not be viewed as a problem for development as it allows people with few alternatives to improve their standard of living, while also aiding their families and the wider community back home by remittances. Many migrants from developing countries also return with new resources, skills and networks.

 The authors of the report also argue that strategies to facilitate and regulate the movement of people from developing countries, through well-managed schemes, will work better than policies that seek to “control”’ migration too tightly or frustrate all opportunities to migrate.

The release of the report comes at a time when the new Coalition government is seeking to impose a UK immigration cap on non-EU migrants, and to more closely control the level of immigration.

The research project coordinator Laura Chappell, a Senior Research Fellow at IPPR, said there are lessons for policy makers in the report.

"An important one for Western governments is that a fortress approach to migration from the developing world is unlikely to be successful. As long as there are such imbalances in the global economy, migrants from poorer countries are going to want to come to countries where the economic opportunities are greater,” she said.

The project involved field work and research in seven countries – Colombia, Fiji, Georgia, Ghana, Jamaica, Macedonia and Vietnam – where almost 10,000 households were surveyed.

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