E.g., 07/24/2014
E.g., 07/24/2014

Does Respect for Migrant Rights Contribute to Economic Development?

Policy Briefs
September 2013

Does Respect for Migrant Rights Contribute to Economic Development?

Respect for rights in migrant-sending countries can help to secure remittances, attract other forms of diaspora investment, and effect social and political change. It contributes to the stability, reputation, human capital, and growth of migrant-sending countries, and thus encourages investment. Whether respect for migrants' rights in receiving countries promotes economic development in those countries is less certain. Evidence suggests that as migrants improve their status, they command better wages and can contribute more to the well-being of their families and home communities.

While the benefits of migration for immigrants are well documented, the question of whether migrant rights enhance economic development in host countries is more complex. Some argue that receiving states face a trade-off with significant development implications: whether to admit fewer migrants with more rights, or larger numbers of migrants with fewer rights.

This policy brief examines the evidence behind the claim that rights further development, and concludes that respect for rights in sending countries likely enhances development inputs to those countries. Respect for migrant rights in receiving countries increases the socioeconomic well-being of immigrants and, thus, their potential to contribute to the development of sending and receiving communities. Yet receiving countries may also balance extending rights to migrants, particularly those that increase costs, with setting admission levels.

Table of Contents 

I. Introduction

II. Does Respect for Rights in Migrant-Sending Countries Enhance those Countries' Development Outcomes?

A. Attracting Investment

B. Contributing to Strong Institutions and the Rule of Law

C. A Virtuous Circle?

III. Does Respect for Migrants' RIghts in Receiving Countries Affect Development in Sending Countries?

IV. The Relationship between Migrants Rights and Development in Receiving Countries

V. Conclusion