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Returning migrants bring benefits – study

5 August 20190 comments

Returning migrants are bringing unexpected benefits to their home communities through wealth, education and world experience, new research has found.

Between 1990 and 2015 nearly half of all migrants worldwide went back to their country of birth, whether by choice or by force.

But to escape violence, war, poverty or environmental disaster, more people than ever across the globe are migrating. Now, around 258 million, or 3.4 per cent of the global population, live outside their country of birth.

In 1970, just two per cent of the world’s 3.7 billion people lived abroad. Historically, those immigrants would have settled where they landed, raised families and joined a new society.

Today, more migrants are returning home whether by choice or by circumstances beyond their control, according to a report published by the US’ National Academy of Sciences.

The study, titled ‘Estimation of emigration, return migration, and transit migration between all pairs of countries’, found that between 1990 and 2015, nearly half of all migrants worldwide went back to their country of birth.

The study shows thee migrants had changed. They were wealthier, multilingual and better educated than most in their local community.

Migrants also have more work experience than people who have never lived abroad, as well as bigger social networks and better technical abilities acquired in foreign schools and jobs.

“As a result, their homecomings are a kind of ‘brain gain’ that benefit not just a migrant’s family but also the community – even their country,” the report says.

Migrants can also be agents for change, the report says.

“After lengthy stays in Western European and North America, for example, migrants from Mali have been shown to bring back democratic political norms that contribute to higher electoral participation. They also demand more integrity from government officials, which encourages political accountability,” the report said.

Researchers in Cape Verde have documented similar improvements in political accountability and transparency in communities with relatively more return migrants.

Migration doesn’t always engender positive changes. Filipinos returning from stints in the Middle East, for example, are often less supportive of democracy, another study concluded.

The researchers found that Mexican households with at one least returned migrant reported higher access to disposable income and funds for investment, as well as better access to clean water, dependable electricity, better-quality housing and education.

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