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      Migration and Development: A Theoretical Perspective 1


      The International Migration Review

      Blackwell Publishing Ltd

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          The debate on migration and development has swung back and forth like a pendulum, from developmentalist optimism in the 1950s and 1960s, to neo‐Marxist pessimism over the 1970s and 1980s, towards more optimistic views in the 1990s and 2000s. This paper argues how such discursive shifts in the migration and development debate should be primarily seen as part of more general paradigm shifts in social and development theory. However, the classical opposition between pessimistic and optimistic views is challenged by empirical evidence pointing to the heterogeneity of migration impacts. By integrating and amending insights from the new economics of labor migration, livelihood perspectives in development studies and transnational perspectives in migration studies – which share several though as yet unobserved conceptual parallels – this paper elaborates the contours of a conceptual framework that simultaneously integrates agency and structure perspectives and is therefore able to account for the heterogeneous nature of migration‐development interactions. The resulting perspective reveals the naivety of recent views celebrating migration as self‐help development “from below”. These views are largely ideologically driven and shift the attention away from structural constraints and the vital role of states in shaping favorable conditions for positive development impacts of migration to occur.

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          Most cited references 11

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          Social structure, household strategies, and the cumulative causation of migration.

          This review culls disparate elements from the theoretical and research literature on human migration to argue for the construction of a theory of migration that simultaneously incorporates multiple levels of analysis within a longitudinal perspective. A detailed review of interconnections among individual behavior, household strategies, community structures, and national political economies indicates that inter-level and inter-temporal dependencies are inherent to the migration process and give it a strong internal momentum. The dynamic interplay between network growth and individual migration labor, migration remittances, and local income distributions all create powerful feedback mechanisms that lead to the cumulative causation of migration. These mechanisms are reinforced and shaped by macrolevel relationships within the larger political economy.
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            The new economics of labour migration and the role of remittances in the migration process.

             Mark Taylor (1998)
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              International migration and national development.

              "In this review, we examine theories, data, and research on the macroeconomic relationship between international migration and national development in all world regions. Earlier reviews have generally been pessimistic about the prospects for economic development as a result of international migration. Until recently, however, theories and data have not recognized the complex, multifaceted, and often indirect ways that international migration can influence the economic status of households, communities, and nations, and they have generally failed to appreciate how these relationships can change over time. When these complexities are incorporated into theoretical models, research designs, and data collection, a more nuanced and far more positive picture emerges. Given a supportive mix of macroeconomic policies and infrastructure, international migration may function as a dynamic force promoting economic growth and national development, so long as it does not bring about the selective emigration of scarce human capital needed for development at home."

                Author and article information

                Int Migr Rev
                Int Migr Rev
                The International Migration Review
                Blackwell Publishing Ltd (Oxford, UK )
                05 March 2010
                March 2010
                : 44
                : 1 ( doiID: 10.1111/imre.2010.44.issue-1 )
                : 227-264
                [ 1 ]University of Oxford
                © 2010 The Authors International Migration Review published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of Center for Migration Studies of New York Inc.

                This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution‐NonCommercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.

                Page count
                Figures: 3, Tables: 2, Pages: 38
                Original Articles
                Custom metadata
                Spring 2010
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