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Migration Studies: Missing Links and Future Agenda

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Migration is as old as human civilization. Throughout human history, migration has been a courageous expression of the individual(s) to overcome adversity and to quest for a better life. Today, globalisation with rapid advancement in communications and transportation has greatly enhanced the capacity and desire of the people to move around the globe in search of better pasture (Annan 2006). The importance of migration in economic development and social change has been realised over the period of time. Goldscheider (1984) stated that the movement of population has been and remains an essential component of economic development, social change and political organisation. In 1994, International Conference on Population and Development not only acknowledged migration as an integral part of population, but also clearly explained the relationship between migration and development (UN 1995). Also migration is one of the key issues of political and public debate all over the world due to security concerns and human rights. Recent decades have witnessed a number of dramatic changes in the migration landscape due to various reasons. This new era has created opportunities and challenges for societies throughout the world.

According to an estimate by International Organization for Migration (IOM 2005), in 2005 there were some 192 million persons of the global population living outside their country of birth. The figure is doubled what it was in 1980 and equivalent to the population of the world's fifth most populous country, Brazil. However, international migrants represent only 2.9 per cent of the world's population as compared to 2.5 per cent of the total world population of 1960. While the great majority of those who move is still of the internal migrants (individuals or families who migrate within their own country), migration can be voluntary or forced, although the actual experience may contain elements of both. Most people migrate for employment, family reunification or marriage. The demand for labour migrants (i.e., those searching for better economic opportunities) has been a major factor in rising levels of migration to developed countries and urban areas. It is with respect to this group that experts invoke the potential role of migration in development and poverty reduction, especially given the significant impact that financial remittances and other benefits can have on countries of origin. Forced migration and trafficking, on the other hand, encompass the more poignant vulnerabilities associated with international movements—particularly where it involves women and children (UNFPA 2006).

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2009

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