Explaining International Migration: Stylized Facts, Theories and Social Policies
Economia, Impresa e Mercati Finanziari, Vol. 2, 2005
Posted: 10 Jul 2006
The increasing waves of globalization, the first taking place between the second half of the last century and WWI, and the second which has occurred since WWII until today, implied an unprecedented flow of goods and factors across international borders. The first episode of mass migration dates back to the nineteenth century, when millions of individuals flew to the New World. This phenomenon, taking place along with the first wave of globalisation, was absolutely massive: approximately 50 millions of Europeans fled from their home country to the New World, between 1820 and 1913 (Hatton and Williamson, 2003). Ever since, aside from a halt in the period between the two World Wars, international migration has accompanied the reprise of the globalisation process, while areas of origin and destination of migration have varied and expanded.
In particular, strong flows of labour force migrants from the less developed to more industrialized countries have become a widespread phenomenon, despite the fact that the constraints due to migrant policies may have suppressed a vast amount of potential migration that otherwise would have taken place.
In the recent thirty years, indeed, international mobility has not kept the pace of the other two indices of globalisation, namely international trade and mobility of capital, although migration pressure does not seem to have declined. In fact, whereas, in the first wave of globalisation, mobility of labour did not suffer from particular restrictions from the receiving countries, the last thirty years have indeed witnessed a growing institutional and legislative firmness on restricting access and on selecting foreign workers, in particular in Europe. Yet, considering the queues of applicants for regular immigration permits in the developing world, the surge in illegal immigration and the increasing number of those that seek asylum in the developed world (Hatton and Williamson, 2003) as a proxy of migration pressure, all these indices point in the direction of increasing rather then declining pressure. This survey aims at highlighting the fundamental contributions offered by the economic literature to the theme of migration, and to the related issues of social exclusion and labour policy, offering both theoretical and empirical insights.
Keywords: Migration, Labour Policies, European Union
JEL Classification: J21, J61, R23
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation