NCCR North-South Dialogue No. 7

by Christine Bichsel, Silvia Hostettler, Balz Strasser
Bern, NCCR North-South 2007

The relationship between international migration and its developmental impact in the country of origin has repeatedly been termed “unsettled” or “unresolved”. Despite considerable research in this area, the debate about whether migration is fostering or hindering development continues. In the NCCR North-South research programme, migration has been designated as a core problem of sustainable development, while recognising that it can also represent an opportunity for families trying to secure a livelihood. We argue that the debate about “migration as a problem” vs. “migration as an opportunity” deserves more research. 
The present publication offers a comparative study focusing on three rural communities in Mexico, India and Kyrgyzstan. The results confirm the general investment patterns for remittances found in many studies: most remittances are used to cover subsistence needs such as food, clothing and medical costs. Once these needs are satisfied, house-holds invest in house construction, agriculture, or business start-ups. Migration can be considered a mitigation strategy for rural households in the sense that remittances alleviate poverty in the community of origin of the migrants. The importance of migration as a livelihood strategy is expected to continue in the future. However, there appears to be little long-term developmental impact from remittances, such as creation of employment. Apart from these results, the present paper reflects on the conceptual framework of the NCCR North-South programme, testing the main hypothesis of the syndrome mitigation concept with respect to international labour migration.

Bichsel C, Hostettler S, Strasser B. 2007. “Should I Buy a Cow or a TV?” Reflections on the Conceptual Frame-work of the NCCR North-South, Based on a Comparative Study of International Labour Migration in Mexico, India and Kyrgyzstan. NCCR North-South Dialogue No 7. Bern, Switzerland: NCCR North-South.


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