Implications of Migration

Including migrants in society

Inclusion and social cohesion are factors that work together when it comes to the healthy integration of migrants in host communities and implies the mutual adaptation of migrants and the host society. Social inclusion refers to the process of improving the capacity, opportunity and dignity of people in unfavourable conditions based on their identity, so that they can participate in society. Social cohesion, though it does not have a universal definition, is related to a sense of belonging to a community, and with solidarity and tolerance among its members.

Challenges for social cohesion

Overall increases in migration have created some new challenges to national and local social cohesion between increasingly diverse social, cultural, ethnic and religious groups. One of the biggest challenges is misinformation on migrants in the media, which can portray migrants negatively and erroneously. This type of misinformation encourages intolerance, discrimination, racism and xenophobia towards those seeking new opportunities outside their country of origin. In turn, this can be linked to negative effects on the physical and mental health of migrants. Migrants’ economic and cultural contributions can also be impaired, which affects the potential benefits for the host communities. Nation States have reaffirmed the importance of migrants’ inclusion and social cohesion by making them a stand-alone objective adopted in the 2018 Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. The Global Compact on Refugees likewise promotes the inclusion of refugees in the receiving country through durable solutions, such as local integration.

Migrants and communities

The relationship between migrants and the communities in which they reside forms an integral and important part of the migration cycle. This relationship takes the form of psychological and sociological processes of adaptation between migrants and receiving communities, which affect the degree of inclusion migrants will experience, including their sense of belonging. Settling in a new community – either temporarily or permanently – may require migrants to adapt to a new culture, customs, social values and language. The extent to which migrants will in turn be progressively included in their destination country also depends on the attitudes of receiving communities, including their openness to migration and migrants.

Key terms

  • Integration
  • Inclusion
  • Xenophobia
  • Remittances

Research and analysis on the topic

Top international remittance recipient countries in 2018

Top international remittance source countries in 2018

Diverse economic roles of migrants in both origin and destination countries

While we often think of international migrants as primarily a source of labour, they are more than just workers, playing diverse economic roles in origin and destination countries, including: As workers, migrants are part of, but also have an impact on, the labour market; they also alter the country’s income distribution and influence domestic investment priorities. As students, migrants – or their children – contribute to increasing the stock of human capital and diffusing knowledge. As entrepreneurs and investors, they create job opportunities and promote innovation and technological change. As consumers, they contribute to increasing the demand for domestic – and foreign – goods and services, thus affecting the price and production levels, as well as the trade balance. As savers, they not only send remittances to their countries of origin but also contribute indirectly, through the bank system, to fostering investment in their host countries. As taxpayers, they contribute to the public budget and benefit from public services. As family members, they support others, including those who need care and support. Migrants also make major contributions to societies in other ways, such as through cultural enrichment (e.g. cuisines, foods, music, art, dance, festivals, traditions, sports, etc)

International remittances

Migrants have made and continue to make significant economic contributions, in both countries of origin and destination. Migrants’ monetary remittances to their countries of origin are among the most widely researched and scrutinized economic contributions. As the amount of money sent in the form of remittances has sharply increased over the years, so has the interest from policymakers and academics in understanding how remittances contribute, both positively and negatively, to recipient countries. In 2018, global remittances amounted to USD 689 billion, whereas flows to low- and middle-income countries alone rose to a record USD 529 billion, up from USD 483 billion in 2017.

Reflection questions

  1. How does misinformation on migrants undermine social cohesion?

  2. What impact can it also have on individuals?

  3. What are the main obstacles that migrants face when trying to achieve ‘social inclusion’ in a community or society?

  4. What are remittances?

  5. How do they affect economic development in countries where migrants originate?