The objective of this paper is to explore on to what extent that economic migration have intensified over the past decade. Once this concept has become concise, the rationale will be used to predict whether labour migration poses any barriers to the achievement of decent work in the global economy. According to (Taran & Migration, 2009, p. 25), the theme on economic migration was first focused in a workshop that was held in London in July 2014. In order to initiate the workshop, the following working definition of economic migration was settled on:
Migration infers to the movement of people across the borders of their homeland to other locations outside that homeland. The objective of this migration is to take up employment and reside in the area for a particular period of time (Guild, 2009, p. 2). In principle, such movements can be attributed to as an individual’s desire for change or a choice of locale. In case of social factors, the desire for migration is triggered by and reflects on economic inequality or inequality of economic opportunities regions that have discrete politics (Battistella, 2014, p. 169). In particular, discrete cross-border politics results to variations in labour force requirements, perceptions of variations in lifestyle standards and perceptions of ideological differences. The consequence of this human resource movement results into what can now be regarded as economic migration. In other words, economic migration can be defined as the option to shift from one locale to another in order to prospect for employment opportunities that can improve on an individual’s standards of living.
In recent years, the agenda on economic migration has been given major prominence in international conventions considering that it is affecting virtually all nations in the world. Nevertheless, the objective has been step-up the positive impacts of migration while at the same time minimising its negative impacts. As Pattanaik & Sahoo(2014, p. 168) observe, migrant workers can contribute towards significant economic development in both their homelands as well as their host countries provided that their labour welfares and concerns are respected.
How migration of labour has intensified
As it will be found out shortly after, there are a number of issues that are happening in the rapidly globalizing world that have led to the intensification of economic migration. In this context, economic migration is being defined as the cross-border movement of people in search of better employment opportunities in attempts to upgrade their living standards. Some ways in which the economic movement have intensified include:
An increase in the number women of immigrants
According to Thompson (2013, p. 127), prior to the 1980s, most of the international migration and labour centered mostly on men leaving the role of the woman unrecognised. As he points outs, the economic contribution of the women in most societies in the world was considered trivial because when women migrated, they always did so in the capacity of spouses or dependants of their male colleagues.
However, there is a rapidly rising global trend to empower women and ensure that they have equal opportunities as their male colleagues in virtually all field of investment. Such attempts range from providing women with equal or better employment opportunities than men to even uplifting their political roles all over the words. This has been supported through implementation of laws such as the ones that ensure that a certain number of available positions are set aside for women. However, what have even made the woman to be more powerful in the society are the education reforms that ensure that education is accessible to all genders if not at least for the girl child. Consequently, women have become greatly exposed to numerous opportunities both in the informal and formal sectors. In regard to the economic migration, in the past one decade or so, most of the legal or illegal immigrants that have been prospecting for better employment standards comprised mostly of men. However, the scenario is rapidly changing with women too competing for the same opportunities. This can be attributed to the fact that the women are increasingly becoming exposed to factors such as education or even legal factors that previously had a tendency to favour men. Moreover, the role of the women is the society is also changing from that of a housewife towards becoming a leader.
In support of this trend, Agrawal (2006) asserts that in countries such as Saudi Arabia, there is a growing influx of immigrant women who are in search of both formal and informal employment opportunities. Indeed, Africa and other developing nations have been the primary contributors of informal workers such as housekeepers, petrol attendants and gardeners. In turn, the remmitances sent home by such migrants add to the GNP of their motherlands apart from directly supporting their depedants.
According to United Nations, (2009, p. 21) there is rise in preference for women labour all over the world particularly in Export-oriented industries. As a further support to this claim, the agency asserts that, in Indonesia, migrant workers remmitted back to the country more than $6 billion in 2006 which was nonetheless, the highest source of foreign exchange after Oil. Of this, women comprised of close to 80% of the 680,000 migrants tied up in overseas employment.
Increased circular migration
Schiek, Liebert, & Schneider (2011, p. 134) define economic migration as temporary movement of labourers and usually repetitivly between their host country and their homeland. It is different from immigartion in that the host countries recognise that the migrant labourers are only interested in filling temporary labour shortages. This aspect of migration has several benefits.
First, there is the transfer of skills. The migrant can provide complementary skills to to the natives of their host countries. In turn, they can also tranfer the skills that they learned abroad to their home country for investment purposes (Battistella, 2014, p. 44). In turn this exchange of skills becomes a key driver of innovation and entreprenuership between various countries. The second aspect is that during the employment period, the immigrant labourers remmit a significant amount of money which is used for investment particularly in their homelands. The third and last benefit of circular migration is that it can pressurise governments to reform (Istaiteyeh, 2011, p. 113). For instance, if there is a massive exodus of expert productive and highly expertised professionals due to poor workers policy and poor income packages, the government may redefine such aspects so that the former feels accomodated.
Economic migration between china and US
In recent year, there is a shifting trend from USA being replaced by China as the next global economy. Some of the factors that can be attributed to this scenario include the fact that, the cost of labour in China is relatively lower in comparison to other world nations (Aarim-Heriot, 2003, p. 13). Consequently, large manufacturing Giants are shifting their operations to the country which is advantageous in several ways. First, the foreign investors introduce new skills in the country which the natives can apply locally or even outside their country. Secondly, the Chinese population is very large which thus contributes a ready market for the available products. Due to the large number of the professional expatriates in China with no better income options, quite a number of them are seeking employment opportunity in US where the remuneration packages are also attractive (Marrow, 2011, p. 67).
Factors that have led to intensified economic migration
To fully comprehend on the rationale behind intense economic migration over the past one decade, it is significant to acknowledge that there are certain factors (pull factors) that tend to attract people towards some regions (Juss, 2013). Similarly, there are factors (push factors) that tend to induce movement from one region to another. In this essay, a joint analysis will be carried out in reference to both the pull and push factors as key drivers to intense economic migration.
Regional variation in wages and salaries for equivalent jobs
There are several factors that affect the kind of remunerations that individuals in a particular profession are likely to receive from their employer. The general economic status progress of a given country is one of such determinants. As it will be observed (Tait, Heller, & mondiale, 1982, p. 20), workers from economically developed countries are likely to receive relatively higher salary and wage packages than their colleagues in less developed countries. The rationale is that, the developed countries tend to set minimum compensation that each labour should receive. This is further enhance by the fact that, cost of products in such countries is also likely to be lower in comparison to the developing nations. This leaves the investors with higher profit margins which they can use to raise the wages of their employees as a motivation factor. On the other hand, a large in a given region of certain professionals can drive down their collective bargain on salaries and wages. Consequently, the employers will adjust their packages according to the supply and demands of labour. All the same, the incentive to migrate is strongest when the expected income is higher than the cost of relocation.
Depending on the social and economic status of a given country, some jobs are considered as a reserve for the low class societies. For instance, in the Unites Arabs Emirates, the natives are reluctant to handle some jobs such as petrol attendants, cleaners and porters (Hopkins & Ibrahim, 1997, p. 340). This opens up employment opportunities to foreign citizens who are willing to work on such jobs considered as informal by the locals. The ultimate effect of this is that, there is an influx of economic immigrants from all over the world competing for the available employment opportunities.
The desire to escape from political repressions
The fact that some virtually all countries across the world are governed on varied definitions of democracy is strong enough to trigger economic migration (Kline, 2010, p. 37). In most cases, this affects the investors of a particular specialisation who feel that the political atmosphere in their country is not conducive enough to facilitate business growth. Take for instance, the citizens in war torn nations. In most cases, they seek asylum in foreign countries where they feel that their freedom is not illegitimately restricted.
Attractive investment opportunities overseas
As mentioned previously, nations support differently conducive environments for business investments. In some cases, what are considered by investors as extreme taxations from local homeland governments coupled by high labour production costs can propel them in seeking similar opportunities in foreign nations (Eckstein, 2013). Generally, the investors will be seeking to invest in nations where the factors of business operation are not that rigid. For instance, in the past decade, the Republic of china has experienced enormous transformations in politics, economy as well as demographic patterns. In regard to political changes, the government has flexed on some policies which were initially unattractive for foreign investors.
This coupled by the fact that China is also credited of facilitating cheap production costs has seem major global operators shift their operations there. Indeed, a number of electronic manufacture-multinationals are contracting Chinese companies in relates industries to carry out production on their behalf (Wu, 2006, p. 216). The complete products are then shipped abroad or still sold locally where the market is still young for some commodities.
Threat of labour migration to decent work in global economy
The impact of labour migration brings almost in equal magnitudes the strengths and weaknesses in respect to decent work in global economy. The concept of decent work was formulated by the constituents of ILO-the governments and employees as a means to establishing the organisations core priorities (McConnell, Devlin, & Doumbia-Henry, 2011, p. 35). It is framed on the understanding that work is a source of individual dignity, family stability, peace in the community, and the democracies that deliver for people.
Moreover, it is also an attribute to economic growth that increases opportunities for productive jobs and enterprise development. All countries which are party to ILO share common values such as commitment to social justice and the efforts towards creation of an economic and social progress (Deacon, 2013, p. 31). Without the cooperation of various nations and the ILO, the concept of labour migration poses the following obstacles as far as the desire for decent work among the employees is concerned.
Extreme poverty is one of the factors that promote child labour especially in some developing countries across the world. Foremost, it is paramount to understand that in most cases child labour is viewed as a necessary evil aimed at boosting the source of income for some families (Craig, 2010, p. 221). For that matter, the parents in such families knowingly deny their siblings access to education so that they can contribute towards a sustainable family income. The issue is complicated further by the fact that, some countries which tend to be accommodative to immigrants do not have legal measures aimed at protecting children from any income generation activities. Therefore, once the parents secure employments in the host country such as in plantations or in mines, they will not hesitate in working alongside their under-age children since even the local authorities have show little concern.
Experts who frontier in children rights protection argue that children who are pre-maturely exposed to working environments tend to have little or no access to education at all even when they attain the legal age (Shukla & Ali, 2006, p. 34). This propagates poor working conditions in that their probability of securing more decent and formal jobs is also limited since education is a core requirement is such cases.
Early child labour is also considered as a critical contributor to premature deaths among children in such environments in that they are barely physically mature to handle manual jobs (Shukla & Ali, 2006, p. 34). Moreover, by children working in unrestricted environments, they are subject to abuse in that they cannot form collective bargains on issues such as better pays, poor working environments as well as working in odd hours. For example, in recent years, Apple’s Chinese supplier has been accused of using child labour within its production line to assemble phones. Moreover, the children are forced to work for longer hours and at meagre pays. This scenario indicates that though China is viewed globally as an excellent destination that promotes globalisation by enhancing economic migration is also a region that is premiering in abuse of ILO advocacies.
According to ILO, the child labour act 12ACP binds all countries who are party to it to arrest and prosecute investment parties that employees children below the legal age of 18 years. Thus unless efforts are made internationally for all nations to ratify on the child labours, then the concept of labour migration will continue inhibiting the expected rise in decent working standards.
Suppressed freedom of association and collective bargaining
Normally, the movement of labour tend to originate from regions where equivalent jobs are paid relatively poorer (Michael Bommes, 2003, p. 179). Nevertheless, though the notion among the prospective employees is that the host country will offer better packages, it is not always a guarantee. Considering that equally interested employees across the world also stand the same chance for hiring means that the employer could significantly lower the expected standard pay. In the long-run, this may hurt even the native workers who will have nonetheless will have no option but comply. In such scenarios, the employees also fear joining trade unions so that they can have collective bargaining for fear that they will be victimised and their positions taken by the relatively flexible immigrants.
Ness (2010, p. 45) observes that, the desire to form unions among the immigrants can be inhibited by their limited numbers in the host countries. Paul points out that at times, depending on the specific country, there is a legal number that is required so that people can form solid movement that will act as the voice for their concerns. Hollifield, Martin, & Orrenius (2014, p. 71) who also holds similar opinions further reveals that, some countries have strict rule in regard to labour associations particularly for the foreigners.
Moreover, in some countries, the employers’ unions tend to be stronger meaning that the labour courts are likely to rule on their favour in case of industrial disgruntles among the employees. Take for instance, quite a number of youths from African countries secure informal employments as domestic workers in foreign nations such as Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and the United Arabs Emirates. The latter countries are known to hold strict stands concerning domestic labourers particularly those from different religions such as Christianity.
Despite their satisfactorily large number, the domestic workers are nevertheless oppressed or killed in mysterious circumstances since their freedom of labour association is not openly allowed by the governments. The homeland governments for such labourers are also heavily challenged in attempts to salvage the situation in that, most of the individuals do not follow the right procedures while going outside the country.
This is another solid testimony that labour migration is far from creating decent working conditions. Indeed this risks deteriorating unless the objectives and aims of international organisations such as ILO are embraced and supported by every nation globally.
Competition over social amenities
To some extent, the attitude to labour migration depends on the economic stability of the host country. In situations where there is a massive entry of immigrants in a particular country, the impact can result in increased competition on available resources such as housing, entertainment joints or even means of transport. According to a study conducted by Light & Rosenstein (2010, p. 193) the natives in most case tend to charge exorbitant prices for the services or products that they render to the unaware foreigners.
Indeed some go to an extent of denying essential services to their fellow natives is preference for the outsiders who are likely to pay extra charges. Alternatively, there is a drastic increase on the price of ordinary products and services due to the notion that the foreigners have high buying potential than the locals. Due to this false perception, the section of consumers that is not satisfy the market requirements is compelled to seek alternative cheap substitutes at the expense of their comfort. In such cases, this can be manifested by for instance, encroachment of sub-standard housing meant to accommodate the lower economic consumer class. This also has a potential of creating rivalry between the locals and the immigrants.
An article “immigration is too high, say four in five Britons” that was published by the online mail a United Kingdom solidifies this sentiment that, cross-border labour immigration can lead to resource competition. The article which carried the opinion of close to 27000 surveyed respondents indicated that about 78% of them were in favour that immigration should be scaled-down. The article points out that there is a growing tension between the locals and the immigrants caused by competition on housing and state services particularly in East London. Furthermore, there is an increasing strain on other essentials such as transport, water and electricity due to the rising population. Indeed, the government of United Kingdom which has been aware of this situation announced in 2012 that it would be capping the number of visas for less skilled workers from outside Europe to 21,700 which is about a fifth of annual applicants.
In support of this argument, various city or urban governments across the world have a responsibility to develop local policies that control diversity and integrate immigrants and long-established locals. Consequently, there will be an environment that experiences social, economic and political harmony among all the parties. The governments must also premier in mitigating practices of exclusion and segregation that are critically being felt in the regions where people co-habit. It is only through such active steps then that the effect of labour migration will cease being a barrier to decent work in global economy.
Selective migration policies
According to the United Nations population statistics, the number of immigrants stood at 191 millions in the year 2005 (Newbold, 2009, p. 26). Of this, only about 14 million represent the asylum seekers and the refugees. The rest represented immigrants. More precisely, this is the bulk of workers who migrate for purposes of employment. This raises the issue on decent work and labour market. However, despite the Universal Declaration on Human rights recognising the right of every person to reside in any country, virtually all nations in the world still place some restrictions regarding entry eligibility.
This sentiment is also indirectly echoed by the Global Commission on International Migration (GCIM) which holds that the world would significantly benefit if movement of workers could be liberalised. In the present, most of the developed nations have placed barriers regarding the admission of the low-skilled workers. One of the destructive myths behind these barriers is misconception that the demand for low-skilled labour such as cleaners and gardeners in a country is temporary or seasonal. Considering that the birth campaign in Europe has contributed to an aging population, then the demand for low-skilled labour cannot be described as temporary. Moreover, the income earned by the low-skilled immigrants contributes significantly to the economy of their motherlands.
Therefore, the wealthy nations such as Europe and USA with a potential to admit more immigrants should not hold back. This is one aspect of labour migration that will contribute towards the achievement of a decent work in the global economy.
So far the essay has discussed in length about the effects of economic migration. It has been observed that desired for better employment is the key driver to the movement. In terms of the intensity of economic migration in the past one decade, more women are increasingly moving in search of independent employment. On the other hand, circular migration has contributed both to transfer of skills between countries and also remittance of cash. Finally, the aspect of decent work is yet to be realised due to effects such as child labour, denied freedom of forming union as well as lack of cohesive relationship between the locals and the immigrants.
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