Tag Archives: migration

The Main Routes of Migration Steered by Culture

52.3% of migrants from the Middle East and North Africa plan to settle in an OECD country. ©N.B.C

Does culture affect migratory flows? The latest Femise study (FEM 42-03) analyzes the impact of cultural factors on the destination choices of migrants from the Middle East and North Africa. While there is a persistent correlation between country of origin and colonial past, the Arab Spring has however reduced the intensity of the role of culture in selecting a country of destination.

To what extent have the former French and British colonies and protectorates maintained a link with the great powers of the end of the 19th century? About 60 years after decolonization, what are the different influences and correlations with migration? The impact of culture on migration flows, largely understudied in the existing literature, has just been the subject of work within FEMISE.

The research team, composed of Frédéric Docquier, Aysit Tansel, and Riccardo Turati, professors of economics in Leuven and Ankara, analyzed the migratory phenomena of 17 countries in North Africa and the Middle East (Mena) over the period of 2007 to 2016. “Cultural indicators are correlated with the level of economic development,” Femise experts say, focusing on gender inequality and religiosity.   (Click here to download the report FEM42-03)

Research shows that cultural traits do not have a significant effect on migration intentions to non-OECD countries. On the other hand, progressivity in terms of religiosity and gender equality positively affect aspirations to migrate to OECD member countries.

Impact of culture in Sunni-majority countries

In addition, the study shows that attitudes towards gender inequalities are marginally significant. However, “young migrants from MENA countries are more progressive in terms of gender equality than the rest of the population,” the study concludes.

On the other hand, religiosity plays a decisive role for European destinations or to North America, but not for Turkey. “Selection by culture is even stronger in Sunni-majority countries,” state the authors of the Femise report.

According to the study, 52.3% of migrants from the Middle East and North Africa plan to settle in an OECD country. This proportion reaches 90% for Morocco and Algeria and 35% for Syrian migrants and 30% for Jordanians, while it amounts to only 10% of migrants in Yemen and Niger. This can be considered proof of the imprint left by colonialism.

Indeed, history continues to influence aspiring migrants in their choice of destination. At the end of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century, Algeria, Chad, Mali, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Syria and Tunisia were French colonies or protectorates and thus benefited from a common cultural base. The same is true for Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and southern Yemen, which were colonized and administered by Britain at the same time. Azerbaijan, under the domination of the Soviet Union, proclaimed its independence in 1991 and is among the most progressive countries with Lebanon in terms of equality between men and women and with regard to religion.

While the characteristics of the major migratory flows remain, several developments have followed the events of the Arab Spring. Following riots, violence in Egypt, Algeria, Iraq, Tunisia and Yemen, these countries have developed a progressive vision and “condemn violence against civilians,” states the report.

Click here to download the report FEM42-03

Articles by in partnership with Econostrum 

Subscribe to the Newsletter of Econostrum : http://www.econostrum.info/subscript

Do emigrants self-select along cultural traits?: Evidence from the MENA countries

Migrants’ selection by cultural traits, beliefs and practices has been largely understudied in the existing literature. In an attempt to fill this gap, this paper investigates whether migration aspirations, concrete plans to emigrate, and preferred destination choices are influenced by cultural traits in the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA). We use the Gallup World Poll (GWP) surveys, which document migration aspirations, cultural traits and many other characteristics of individuals. We limit our sample to 17 MENA countries where Gallup conducted at least one wave of its survey between the years 2007 and 2016.

To begin with, we show that migration aspirations are correlated with actual migration flows obtained from the OECD International Migration Database. This suggests that the patterns of migration aspirations are likely to be similar to the patterns of actual migration. The average share of aspiring migrants in our sample is around 24%. Syria exhibits the largest share with over 35%; Jordan and Algeria come next at about 30%; Niger, Azerbaijan and Chad exhibit the smallest shares at about 20%. Through cultural proximity and network effects, former colonial ties are still affecting the preferred destinations of aspiring migrants. On average, 52.3% of the aspiring migrants from the MENA would like to move to an OECD destination country. This share amounts to 90% in Morocco and Algeria, while it is around 10% in Yemen and Niger.

We conduct a two-stage Principal Component Analysis on a set of 12 opinion questions to identify four synthetic indicators of cultural traits. We find that Lebanon and Azerbaijan are the most progressive in terms of gender-egalitarian attitudes. Iran and Azerbaijan are the less religious countries; on the contrary, sub-Saharan African countries (i.e., Chad, Mauritania, Mali and Niger) exhibit the highest levels of religiosity. Iran, Afghanistan and Syria exhibit the highest levels of generosity. Four countries that experienced turmoil and riots during the Arab Spring (i.e., Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen) hardly justify the use of violence. We refer to these countries and Syria as the Main Insurgents. In these countries, a large share of the population finds it unjustifiable to use any kind of violence against civilians.

In our empirical analysis, we only consider two cultural traits that are highly correlated with economic development indicators, namely gender-egalitarian attitudes and religiosity. We conduct a set of fixed-effect logit regressions for several subsamples to identify the effect of cultural traits on migration aspirations. The full sample estimates show that aspirations to all destinations are negatively affected by the level of religiosity but are not influenced by gender-egalitarian views. When we distinguish between emigration aspirations to OECD and non-OECD member states, the results reveal that cultural traits are not significant for migration aspirations to non-OECD countries. In contrast, aspirations to migrate to an OECD destination decrease with religiosity, and increase with gender-egalitarian views. In other words, aspiring migrants to OECD destinations exhibit lower levels of religiosity than those who do not intend to migrate. Next, we check whether similar selection patterns apply to individuals who have concrete migration plans for the next 12 months. We find that the effect of religiosity is highly significant and even larger than for migration aspirations; the effect of gender-egalitarian views is insignificant.

We then conduct a large set of robustness checks. First, we split the set of OECD destinations into three subsets that are frequently reported as preferred destinations in the data, namely the European Union, North America and Turkey. The results confirm that the effect of gender-egalitarian views remains insignificant or marginally significant for all sets of destinations, while the effect of religiosity is highly significant when considering OECD, high-income destinations, but not when considering Turkey. Second, we split the sample along education levels, and show that our results are valid for all skill groups. Third, we distinguish between three age categories, gender groups and marital status. Selection by religiosity is significant for all age groups and is greater for men, while positive selection on gender-egalitarian views becomes significant for single women and for all individuals aged 15 to 30. This is the age group in which aspiring migrants are the most likely to realize their migration aspirations. Fourth, we checked whether the intensity of cultural selection varies with aggregate country characteristics such as the shares of Sunnis and Shiites among the Muslim population, the log-GDP per capita, two indicators of institutional quality, and the size of the migrant network in the OECD countries. Our regressions reveal that aspiring migrants from countries with a Sunni minority have more progressive gender-egalitarian views, which also become significant when controlling for migration networks. Seventh, we explored whether the link between cultural traits and migration has been affected by the Arab Spring. We consider the full sample of MENA countries, the Main Insurgents and the other countries. In all specifications, selection by religiosity is always positive and significant. Although the Arab Spring has not affected the intensity of cultural selection in the less affected countries, it has drastically reduced it in the Main Insurgent countries.

Methodologically speaking, we also explore whether our results are driven by differences in the composition of the samples of aspiring migrants and non-migrants. We use the Mahalanobis Metric Matching technique to construct samples of aspiring migrants and non-migrants that are balanced in terms of observable covariates. All conclusions of the benchmark regressions hold when using the matched samples.

We thus conclude that migrants from MENA to OECD exhibit lower levels of religiosity. Moreover, young male or female migrants share significantly more gender-egalitarian views than the rest of the population. Overall, the Arab Spring has increased the relative religiosity of aspiring migrants in the most affected countries. Consequently, emigration to OECD countries has direct implications on the distribution of cultural traits in the population left behind and on the cultural distance at destination. Nevertheless, the effects of cultural selection should not be overestimated. First, emigration hardly affects the distribution of cultural traits in the MENA countries. Emigration towards OECD countries could even reverse the selection effect if migrants abroad transfer more progressive norms and beliefs to their home country. Second, it has a limited (albeit non negligible) effect on the cultural distance between natives and immigrants in the OECD countries.

How does Migration Boost Trade?

The most recent report by FEMISE members, published in April 2017, highlights the interaction between migration and the density of trade relations in the countries of the Euro-Mediterranean region. France and Egypt are the subject of a specific study attesting to the close imbrication between these two phenomena.

Selon l’étude, les réseaux d'immigrants ont pour effet d’augmenter de 10 % à 20 % les échanges commerciaux entre la France et l’Egypte (photo : F.Dubessy)

According to the study, immigrant networks have the effect of increasing trade between France and Egypt by between 10% and 20% (photo : F.Dubessy)

This is indisputable. The econometric analysis of Femise’s experts twists and turns to the conventional wisdom about the impact of migrants on the economy of host countries.
The most recent FEM41-13 report  entitled “The role of vicinity linkages in the EU-Med region for trade growth : Focus on Migration, level of education, and social integration” demonstrates the positive role of the influx of migrants on the increase in the volume of trade between the country of departure and that of destination. According to the study, networks of immigrants present a clear capacity for giving rise to new trade exchanges with estimates of effects at 10%-20% of total trade exchanges for two countries under study.

Marseille, cosmopolitan city par excellence, maintains close and historical relations with Tunis and Algiers. In Sète, the importance of the Moroccan community justifies the exploitation of maritime links with the Kingdom. Migrants duplicate their consumption habits in the host country. These overlaps stimulate economies. This is why Femise advocates an emphasis and a modulation of the commercial policy of the States with regard to their migration strategy.

The report analyzes the case of France and Egypt. Hexagon, which had 7.6 million immigrants in 2013, has always had close historical ties with neighboring Maghreb countries. Of the 220 000 annual migrants recorded in France (between 2000 and 2013), 51% come from Africa. “Exports and imports to and from countries in the MENA3 zone (Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia) account for 8% of France’s total trade,” the document said.

Caution Towards Selective Migration Policies

73% des émigrés égyptiens choisissent de s’installer dans un pays arabe et 13% en Europe de l’Ouest (©ververidis/123RF )

In the case of Egypt, which has 4 million immigrants around the world, the Femise study demonstrates the beneficial effect on the trade of host countries. 73% of Egyptian emigrants choose to settle in an Arab country and 13% in Western Europe. “By choosing to settle in a western country, they seek to evolve professionally while avoiding corruption, social prejudices in Egypt,” the report states.

The co-authors Andrés Artal-Tur  and Vicente Pallardó-López, professors at the University of Valencia, and John Salevurakis and Mona Said professors at the American University of Cairo (AUC) highlight a number of variables influencing Bilateral trade relations between countries of departure and destination.

Thus, the profile of the migrant has an impact on the nature and intensity of trade. Their level of education, their professional activity, their level of language proficiency and their adaptability to the host country play a decisive role.

If the link between migration and trade is established, it seems legitimate to question the long-term impact of the rise in protectionism and the selective migration policies deployed by OECD member countries in recent months.

The full report is available to download by clicking on the link

Article produced in partnership with Econostrum

Register to the Econostrum Newsletter : http://www.econostrum.info/subscription/

Pierre Vimont “Each European State must participate in the effort to welcome refugees in an equitable manner”

Consultant at Carnegie Europe and French Ambassador to the European Union, Pierre Vimont was the organizer of the Valletta Summit on Migration in November 2015. This specialist in European Neighborhood Policy, Transatlantic Relations and french Foreign Policy participated in the Femise annual conference on the 29th and 30th of April 2017 in Casablanca. About a hundred Mediterranean experts delivered their analyzes on the theme of “Migration and Refugees Crisis in the EU-Med: Dawn of an era of shared responsibility? “.

Pierre Vimont est un expert de la politique européenne de voisinage, des relations transatlantiques et de la politique étrangère. ©N.B.C

Pierre Vimont is an expert in European Neighborhood Policy, Transatlantic Relations and french Foreign Policy ©NBC

Since 2010 Arab states are undergoing an unprecedented crisis. What is the state of play?

These crises gave rise to hope in both Arab and European countries. But after a while, some countries faced economic difficulties. Hope gave its place to disenchantement in Syria, Libya and Yemen. There is a real difficulty in defining the needed actions to help these countries achieve political stability, security and economic prosperity.

Immigration of refugees has fragmented the European territory. Is this issue not a danger to Europe?

The management of the refugees crisis creates a profound division within Member States. However, we must never lose hope with Europe. Solidarity, loyal cooperation among all partners, is key to the problem. Italy and Greece, given their geographical position, are making much more efforts to welcome immigrants and grant them the right to asylum. In 2016, 770,000 people benefited from the right to asylum. There are too many disparities between states. Everyone must participate in the effort to welcome refugees in an equitable manner. Nearly 450,000 reside in Germany, while France only counts 35,000.

How is France positioned?

Pierre Vimont lors de la conférence annuelle du Femise, les 29 et 30 avril 2017 à Casablanca. ©NBC

Pierre Vimont at the Femise annual conference, April 29-30 in Casablanca. ©NBC

The French effort in the field of asylum right remains much lower than in Germany. This country replenishes a demographic deficit that generates unfilled jobs. France is trying to improve its asylum system, making it more efficient for decisions to be made more rapidly. The deadlines for granting asylum are currently around one year but should be reduced by half. The french public opinion remains very reserved with regard to refugees and economic emigrants. The French authorities are quite cautious on this issue. Many believe that immigrants generate unfair competition. However, they occupy jobs that the French refuse to perform such as the collection of household garbage in large cities or the employment of seasonal workers in the agricultural field.

How can we avoid any risk of amalgation between terrorist attacks and the rise of Islamism?

Political leaders, intellectuals and elites must be pedagogical. They must explain the migratory phenomena to avoid any risk of amalgamation. To do this, one must have the courage to speak and explain the reality of what is happening on the ground. Political refugees are not illegal immigrants attracted by unscrupulous employers. They are persecuted citizens in their countries, with no alternative but to flee.

The reports of the Plenary Sessions of the FEMISE 2017 Annual conference are available by clicking here.

Interview undertaken by in partnership with Econostrum at teh FEMISE Annual Conference of 2017- Photo by Nathalie Bureau du Colombier.

Subscribe to the Econostrum newsletter : http://www.econostrum.info/subscript

Migration and the refugees crisis: FEMISE experts discuss the dawn of a new era

Femise 2017 Annual Conference on “Migration and Refugees’ Crisis in the EU-Med: Dawn of an Era of Shared Responsibility?”

Reports of the Plenary Sessions

First Plenary: Impact of the Refugees’ Crisis on Neighbouring Southern countries

Several millions of Syrians have fled their country since 2011 and the beginning of the war. Neighboring riparian states are the destination for the vast majority of them, with Lebanon at the forefront. What will the economic impact of this Syrian diaspora be? And will the refugees return to their country once peace is restored? These are among the questions that have been put at the beginning of this first plenary session of the FEMISE annual Conference (Casablanca, 29-30 April, 2017)

Osama Kadi, FEMISE conference 2017

Devastated by the war that began in March 2011, Syria has lost more than half of its population in only six years. Out of the country’s 25 million inhabitants on the eve of the conflict, 15 million have left the country or have been killed, imprisoned or disabled. “Almost 20,000 engineers left in the first year of the war,” said Osama Kadi, president of the Syrian Economic Task Force (SETF) in his opening statement at the first plenary session. Syrians did not choose to leave their homeland. It was the war that forced them to seek refuge in neighboring countries and cross the Mediterranean risking their lives. As a result, 50 000 people have died drowning since 2011 in makeshift boats trying to escape (presentation available here).

The country is deeply fragmented and the economy lost its capital and human resources. Living conditions are devastating: more than 85% of the remaining population live under the poverty line, most children are out of schools, life expectancy has dropped dramatically to 56 years with no easy access to health care (ratio of doctors to persons is less than is 1:4000) and more than two million houses have been destroyed. Most energy resources have been either damaged or taken over by islamist groups.

FEMISE conference 2017, Casablanca

However, Mr. Kadi sends a message of hope about post-conflict reconstruction. He argues that security, justice and reconciliation, social and economic well-being and governance and participation. Amidst huge challenges, and depending on how the conflict will be resolved, he suggested four sectors that could achieve quick returns: energy sector, agriculture and labor intensive industries. He provided some of his insights about the short and long run reforms plans, inspired by the “Marshall Plan” which reconstructed western Europe after the WWII.

Refugee status to join the formal sector

Mohamed Ali Marouani, FEMISE conference 2017

Complementing the picture, Mohamed Ali Marouani, Professor of Economics at the University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne highlights: “We are too focused on the humanitarian aspects and not enough on the economic stakes. In Lebanon, Syrian refugees live in poor areas characterized by high rates of unemployment. How can we improve their quality of life? If refugees fail to be part of the economy, they will remain in the informal sector and will not be able to generate trade, “analyzes Mohamed Ali Marouani, who advocated for their integration into the formal labor market during his speech about the economic impact of the Syrian crisis on the neighbouring country: Lebanon (presentation available here).

Lebanon is on the front line. Syrian refugees now represent about 30% of the Lebanese population. This is the highest rate of Syrian refugees in the world. By way of comparison, they represent only 3% of the Turkish population. The massive influx of 1.2 million Syrians considerably weighs on the Lebanese economy. The country has to face a 20% drop in its exports and an important rise in the unemployment rate. His analysis focuses on four possible impacts : first the impact of sharing border with Syria as a country in conflict (which will have huge impact on its trade and economy), second the impact of huge influx of refugees that entered Lebanon with particular need to access the labour markets, third the impact of an extreme case scenario of aid stopping and hence causing complete reliance on income generated from labour and fourth, the positive impact of increasing investment through foreign aid. His analysis showed that costs of lower trade (and tourism) in Lebanon are high given the importance of these sectors for the Lebanese economy. The flows of refugees have a negative impact on unemployment (particularly for the lowest segments of the Lebanese workforce). Global growth is higher, but if we take into account the refugees, growth per capital is lower. This is mainly due to the negative impact of the shocks on investments.

Ibrahim Ahmed ElBadawi, FEMISE conference 2017

While Turkey refuses to give Syrians refugee status, depriving them of Turkish citizenship, Egypt and Sudan have shown an exemplary attitude. “Syrians can have a job in Egypt. Their integration is a model to be studied, “suggests Ibrahim Ahmed Elbadawi, president of Femise and Managic Director of the Economic Research Forum in Cairo. “Syrians feel safe in Egypt and develop trade relations. It remains to be seen whether at the end of the war, they can return to Syria, “stresses Osama Kadi. “The heritage they enjoy in the host countries will determine their final choice. They lost everything in Syria.

Raed Safadi, FEMISE conference 2017

How can we help them regain the motivation to rebuild their country in ruins, states Raed Safadi during his presentation entitled ” Impact of the refugees on Neighbors: the Good, the Not so Good .. and the Bad “. He advocates the fact that the combined population of Jordan ,Turkey and Lebanon (neighbouring countries) is 94 mn with a GDP of $900; while the population in the EU is 500 mn with a GDP of $18.4 trillion and the population is the USA is 319 mn with a GDP of $17.4 trillion. He explains that the impact of the refugees could be a boon if they fill demographic gaps, integrate in the labour market and become productive and bring bilateral trade and investment; and they could be a burden if they strain on public and private services, cause overcrowding and increase societal strife. The impact of the Syrian conflict has caused greater macroeconomic challenges in the neighbouring countries than the influx of Syrian refugees, such as blocked export channels and destinations, tourism, regional insecurity. However, there are some on-going positive impacts of those refugees, in Turkey 26% of newly established business are Syrians. Dr. Safadi stressed the need to consider both humanitarian and development assistance (presentation available here).

Second Session: Unifying the Mediterranean vision of migration to the benefit of migration and refugees

While the first plenary session highlighted a rather disparate management of the refugee influx by host countries, the second plenary session of the Femise conference (29th of April 2017 in Casablanca) focused on finding concrete solutions to bring a Common vision. Too many divergences exist between the perception and actual management of refugees in the north and south of the Mediterranean, hindering the establishment of a solidarity chain. The phenomenon being perceived as a threat for some and an opportunity for others …

Hugo de Seabra, FEMISE conference 2017

Economic immigrants, political refugees and free movement of individuals … about 6,000 immigrants struck daily at the gates of Europe in 2015, during the crisis peak. Given the magnitude of the phenomenon, EU states were improvising by bringing an empirical response. “The welfare state has exacerbated divisions in Europe. We must build a common ground and develop an inclusive approach, “argues Hugo de Seabra of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Portugal, at the initiative of the November 2016 Lisbon Summit on” Improving responses in Europe to the refugee crisis “.He adds that unifying a vision for Europe will require some strategic directions to: create the political will to develop a forward-looking EU Strategy towards migration; develop a coherent and fair mechanism to manage migration flows, to promote work-focused integration that strengthens social belonging and to mobilise the whole society to promote inclusivity. Each of these directions will require well-designed policies that he elaborated in his speech (presentation available here).

Harmonizing the granting of asylum in Europe

Pierre Vimont, FEMISE conference 2017

“A real substantive reflection must be carried out on burden-sharing. We must adopt a genuine immigration policy with harmonized rules, in particular on the time-limits for granting asylum between the different European countries “, suggests Pierre Vimont, Senior Fellow at Carnegie Europe. The refugee crisis has divided Europe, exacerbating tensions and contributing to the rise of populism. It was not until 2015 that Brussels decided to develop an immigration strategy.

Europe sought regaining control by closing its borders all the while trying to convince the countries of the south to keep immigrants on their soil in return for economic and financial support,” analyzes Pierre Vimont. He added: “Europe would like to duplicate the agreement that was reached with Turkey to Libya, something which is impossible given the political and social situation”. He suggests several lines of work: defining a rigorous policy, organizing a first stage in Africa allowing to legally enter Europe and increasing financial support to Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan.

Nevertheless, has Europe not amplified the phenomenon? “About 70% of the 6 million Syrian refugees remained in the region. Europe has received only 1.3 million refugees. Of the 770,000 asylum-right beneficiaries in 2016, 450,000 are in Germany and 35,000 in France, “states Senén Florensa, executive president of IEMED in Barcelona.

FEMISE researchers debating, FEMISE conference 2017

Over time, since the beginning of the crisis in 2011, new roads have been opened, displaced or closed. By 2016, 55% of refugees were transiting through Greece and 45% through Italy.

A land of economic immigration, Spain ceased to be attractive when it was struck by the crisis with a saturated labor market. From a transit country, Morocco has seen its status change to become a host country. He highlights the fact that there are overlapping strategies in terms of managing Migration in the EU-Med region: from the EU-27 strategy, the 5+5 the union for the Mediterranean, the ENPI and the Euro-African conference on Migration and development which complicates the picture. He concludes by stating that from “more development for less migration” to “ better migration for more development” and that the migration policies should not be disconnected from development policies.

Third Session — What actions are still needed to Face the Refugees Crisis ?

The Syrian conflict is the most important humanitarian challenge. It marks an exodus of more than five million Syrians which settled in Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. The 13.5 million who chose to stay require emergency assistance. The United Nations, through the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), are trying to provide concrete answers by helping people in distress. Providing immediate actions while anticipating peace, reconstruction and the return of refugees … Speakers at the last session of the Femise conference delivered their vision for the future.

Charbel Nahas, FEMISE conference 2017

At the end of the war, economists are considering several scenarios. “Civil war has irreversible effects. Should Syrian refugees be fully or partially integrated into host countries? Should we organize their repatriation? “queried Charbel Nahas, economist and former labor minister in Lebanon. Wear, weariness and even trivialization of a conflict that drags on … As the civil war in Syria enters its seventh year, aid is becoming scarce. To date, only US $ 7 million has been received out of the USD 200 million needed to build shelters and provide non-food aid.

A civil war is both demobilization and destruction of resource stocks. The Syrian population is suddenly in surplus. Its migration is a predictable effect. The balance between the population stock and the capital stock has been broken in Lebanon. Behind the complementarity or substitutability of Lebanese workers (and other residents) and Syrians lies the question of the adjustment variable: adaptation of labour, of the economy or society. Considerable choices arise: to integrate the Syrians totally, partially, with differentiated statuses, to organize their exit … In each case, it is the socio-political institutional model that must be redefined and the regional context with it. Contrary to pure economic theory, country-size matters, but in terms of relative strength ratio. The movement of goods is not equivalent to the movement of factors, especially of men and of natural resources. If there were to be a common vision, it should be clearly political. FEMISE can undoubtedly play a role. Lebanon, for its misfortune experienced civil war and reconstruction before Syria. The Lebanese experience, because it presents a case of extreme adaptation, must imperatively be taken into account.

Sophie Nennemacher, FEMISE conference 2017

“During the New York summit in September 2016, countries made concrete financial commitments to support countries in crisis. By 2018, member States also pledged to adopt a global pact for safe, orderly and regular migration. However, this summit was a failure. We are witnesing financial disinterest among States in mobilizing funds for refugees. Thus, UNHCR is launching a new appeal and is trying to re-incite countries to support refugees, “says Sophie Nennemacher, IOM’s regional migration policy officer. She also adds that greater coherence between humanitarian action and development planning to build a resilience community is required (presentation available here).

However, texts protecting migrants in situations of vulnerability do exist. “The United Nations convention on migrants has been scarcely ratified because it gives migrants a lot of rights,” says the migration expert. She describes the vulnerability of the refugees whom routinely fit the decision of a population “left behind”. She provides some details about the efforts of the IOM on this front and their “displacement Tracking matrix” to follow up on the movements of the displaced.

Following the summits of New York and Malta, Kampala will be hosting a summit organized by the African Union in mid-May.

Post-war scenarios

At the end of September, governments, civil society representatives and the private sector will also meet in Cairo to try to reach a consensus and move forward on this issue. “States are called upon to put forward their ideas in order to defend the cause of migrants, to combat human trafficking, to open up legal channels for immigration and to establish lines of cooperation”, adds Sophie Nennemacher. The IOM representative pointed out that tools to monitor migrants’ movements and to assess the needs of populations (refugee camp management, social and psychosocial assistance) do in fact exist. The expert also recalled the multiplier effect of aid on consumption and its stimulating effect on the economy.

Philippe Poinsot, UN coordinator and UNDP representative in Morocco, cites the example of the Shereefian kingdom: “Hospitality is deeply rooted in the Muslim world. Refugees enjoy the same rights as Moroccans “.

For a photo album of the Conference, please click here

Debates, FEMISE Conference 2017, Casablanca

From left to right: Constantin Tsakas, Jala Youssef, Ibrahim ElBadawi, Patricia Augier, Maryse Louis

flag_yellow_highThis event received financial support from the European Union through the FEMISE project on “Support to Economic Research, studies and dialogues of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership”. Any views expressed in this seminar are the sole responsibility of the speakers.

Remittances Improve the Living Conditions of recipients


Remittances considerably reduce the number of poor households in rural areas. (Photo F. Dubessy)

Migrants’ remittances contribute to improving the living conditions and level of education of recipient families. A study on the impact of short-term migration with an in-depth analysis of the cases of Algeria and Morocco was carried out by FEMISE economists.

Since 1995, there has been a six-fold increase in remittances towards developing countries, reaching a total of 325 billion dollars in 2010. It is clear that these flows have a great impact on both the economies and the families that receive them. It explains why the Euro-Mediterranean Forum of Economic Science Institutes (FEMISE) undertook a study, under the guidance of Professor Mouhoud El Mouhoud, who teaches at Paris Dauphine University to measure this impact.

The study, of FEMISE 33-22 entitled “Impact of remittances on poverty and inequality: Lessons from two new surveys conducted in Morocco and Algeria ”, provides a wealth of new information.

Housing, health and education – the largest items of expenditure


Since 1995, there has been a six-fold increase in remittances towards developing countries, reaching a total of 325 billion dollars in 2010. (Photo BL)

The empirical results from this study show that remittances sent by migrants considerably reduce the number of poor households in rural areas. They also prevent vulnerable households from falling into poverty. In reality, even though not all migrants are from poor families, the money they send back can have a positive knock-on impact on spending”, the report explains.

Generally, money is spent on goods and services: in particular housing, health and education, are the largest items of expenditure.

“(…) Migrants’ remittances positively influence parental decisions to allow their children to continue their studies, particularly if they are male and enrolled in a high school or a higher education institution”, points out report FEM33-22.

While some migrants choose to leave their country of origin in order to raise the living conditions of families remaining in the home country, some decide not to transfer any money. According to the study, the amounts vary according to migrants’ income, country of origin, host country and duration of their stay abroad.

On the whole, remittances are sent towards countries with weak economic performance. They reduce the number of people living below the poverty line by 9%.

In Algeria, the study observes a significant difference between those populations that benefit from migrants’ remittances and those that do not. Disparities can also be seen between regions. While Nedroma for instance, is characterised by high rates of emigration and low rates of remittances, Kabylie, with links to the French colonial past, sees many migrants return upon retirement. In the latter case, the study notes the importance of pensions paid to the former migrants.

In Morocco, remittances are the primary source of foreign currency, ahead of tourist receipts. In 2011, they accounted for 351 billion dollars.
However, while remittances do improve living conditions, they cannot replace comprehensive and inclusive public policy.

Article by Nathalie Bureau du Colombier, Econostrum. www.econostrum.info.

Newsletter d’econostrum : http://www.econostrum.info/subscription/
Photos by Econostrum: Photo 1 F. Dubessy; photo 2 par BL

Impact of Remittances on poverty and inequality: Lessons from two new surveys conducted in Morocco and Algeria

Migration is a demographic phenomenon of great magnitude. Indeed, migrants accounts for about  215.8 million*, equally divided between men and women. Migration affects all countries, although the so-called developing countries have the highest rates of emigration, it is not only a movement from these countries to the North. Indeed, in 2009, 74 million* people have migrated from a southern country to another southern countries, often sharing borders. The causes of this South-South migration are multiple wars, famines, weather conditions and economic motivations. Migration from the South to the North represents some 97.51 million people whose main motivation is often economic or family reunification. Finally, in 2009, 37.7 million people* migrated from one developed country to another developed country, while 6.5 million* went south.

In most cases of migration from poorer to richer countries, individuals seeking to improve their living conditions. When they do not migrate permanently, they are more likely to send part of the money earned in the host country to their families in the home country. These remittances represent huge sums: in 2010, remittances to developing countries amounted to 325 billion*. Their level has increased sixfold since 1995. This explosive growth is in part due to the increased number of international migrants, but also improving the means available to migrants for effecting such transfers. In addition, the interest in this phenomenon in the literature and government has led to a better statistical coverage of these flows.

The amount of transfers far exceeds development aid in Asia, Latin America, North Africa and the Middle East, and are the main source of external financing in the latter part of the world (to direct investment abroad). The main recipient countries are India (55 billion), China ($ 51 billion *), Mexico (22.6 billion) and the Philippines (21.3 billion) the amount records are due to their very high rate of emigration. For some countries, these remittances constitute substantial financial resources they represent a very significant share of gross domestic product: in 2009, remittances accounted for 35% of GDP Tadjikistan, 28% and 25% Tonga and Lesotho, making these truly dependent countries of migration. In addition to representing substantial amounts, transfers are the only outside income donated directly to households. They have a very significant impact on the welfare recipients in countries where poverty is very present. In addition, these funds are very stable, and counter-cyclical nature allowing beneficiaries to deal more effectively with crises they face.

The importance of money involved has recently relaunched the literature on the broad topic of the impact of remittances to the country of origin. The themes are many, but still a topic particularly analyzed and discussed regarding the impact of remittances on poverty and income distribution in the country. The literature has gripped this for several years and looks into whether this money donated directly to households, allows people in developing countries out of poverty and to make society more equal.

Our study answers the question of the effect of migration on poverty and inequality from the realization of two original household surveys conducted in Morocco and Algeria. We use two original surveys we conducted in Algeria and Morocco with a sample of households with and without migrants and receiving or not receiving of remittances? We compare the levels of poverty and inequality prevalent today than estimated for a situation no migration or transfer to which migrants would be reinstated in local life. The first part presents the work on two Algerian regions of high emigration rates Kabylia and Tlemcen region.

Workshop on Migration in the Mediterranean, 16-17 April 2011, Istanbul, Turkey

Migration_work_2011FEMISE and ERF (Economic Research Forum), jointly organized a workshop in Istanbul on 16 and 17 April 2011 under the theme of: “Migration in the Arab Region: Causes and Consequences“, to better understand the evolution of the migration phenomenon in the Mediterranean.Best-qualified researchers in the field presented results of their latest research and exchanged their views on the subject. (Photo FEMISE: from left : F. Docquier, I. Awad, JL.Reiffers et K. Sekkat).

The Mediterranean region is among those in the world where migration plays a central role. It is characterized by large inflows and outflows of workers, by a large stock of migrants abroad and by the main role played by migrants’ remittances in the macroeconomic balance of home countries. Some Med countries like Morocco, Algeria and Lebanon are responsible for some of the largest Diasporas abroad. There are also significant flows of migrants from Arab countries (especially along with the Gulf countries) that develop as the South-South integration continues to deepen.

The purpose of this workshop was to review the analytic work done by researchers specialized on some of the most important aspects of migration in the region by addressing the following questions: What is the overall impact of migration on employment, education, social welfare and democracy? What is the influence of the Diaspora on domestic institutions? Can remittances promote financial development and entrepreneurship? Can they reduce poverty and inequality? The seminar was concluded with the presentation of a research agenda to develop in the future, some of which will notably be proposed to the FEMISE Scientific Committee for its forthcoming call for proposals. Below a short presentation of the main messages communicated during the two days, and at the end of the article, links to all papers and presentations.

Docquier_mig_2011Frédéric Docquier (University of Louvain) and Khalid Sekkat (University of Brussels), show that joint analysis regarding causes and consequences of migration, although determinant, was still a neglected research area.  On issues related to the overall impact of migration, researchers found the following: First, it is clear that economic variables play a predominant role and that emigration is largely influenced by factors such as income differentials between countries or network effects ; second, migration may generally lead to a “brain gain” for the country of departure, the hypothesis of a “brain drain” made during the 80s has been overtaken by the need for countries to be an integral part of globalization. Thus, the workshop emphasized that although the migration of skilled workers can have negative effects in the short term, it can have a positive impact on employment, wages and social welfare on origin countries in the long term. It was noted that the migration of qualified women produced significant effects on fertility, child health and education.

The Diaspora also has a significant influence on the institutions of the country of origin: Michel Beine (University of Luxemburg), illustrates this with an analysis of the direct and indirect impact and economic effects of migration on international institutions. Remittances and norms’ transfer have a significant and positive impact on democracy, transparency and education in particular. The research conducted by Jad Chaaban (American University of Beirut) and Wael Mansour (Lebanon World Bank) confirms and highlights the positive impact of remittances on education in 3 countries (Jordan, Syria and Lebanon).

Mig_work_LorcaThe recent waves of uprising in the Arab world have been caused by the discontent of the younger generation to the issues of unemployment and lack of freedom. Alejandro Lorca (Universidad Autonoma de Madrid) suggests that migration and remittances, however, cannot substitute for effective policies and reforms in the economic and political sphere of the origin country. Governments of the origin countries must create enough jobs to absorb labour, and the European Union should encourage this development to ensure economic stability in the Euromed region.

Can migrants’ remittances also promote financial development and entrepreneurship in the country of origin? Do they have an impact on Poverty and Inequality? El Mouhoub Mouhoud (University Paris Dauphine) presented the first results of a survey on the determinants and the use of transfers from France to the Maghreb countries. Return migration represents a significant percentage of entrepreneurs and a significant economic contribution that influences the development process.

Whaba_mig_2011This point is also confirmed by the research of Jackline Wahba (University of Southampton) and Bachir Hamdouch (National Institute of Statistics and Applied Economics, Morocco) which addresses the impact of returning migrants on the labour market in the MENA region through various studies on countries such as Egypt and Morocco. The Moroccan Diaspora constitutes 10% of the population and remittances 9% of GDP, and plays an important role in reducing poverty and inequality. Returning migrants are more likely to become self-employed (entrepreneurs) or employers and tend to earn 46% more than non-migrants. The research conducted by Ragui Assaad (University of Minnesota) confirmed that male migration increases the supply of the female labour force generating a profound impact on households.

These studies confirm that international migration is crucial for the global economy and return migration has a significant economic contribution in the origin country especially through savings and capital accumulation.

To conclude the workshop, the last session was devoted to investigate areas for future research on the topic of migration. Current research is mainly conducted on the relationship between remittances and poverty, education, entrepreneurship and wages, while future research should seek to analyze the effects of financial crisis on migrant remittances on receiving countries or study the impact of the Diaspora on the institutions of the country of origin focusing on governance, corruption and democracy. The impact of family reunification policies on female migration and gender studies of migration are also areas of research currently neglected. Other questions can be addressed, such as the determinants of illegal migration and its consequences. Is there a balance between the needs of the region between the North and South shores? And how to analyze and optimize the temporary and circular migration phenomenon?

Jackline Wahba University of Southampton recommends:

  • More research to clarify policy on migration,
  • Better understanding of the opportunities and challenges faced by immigrants and their families: the incentives and constraints they face,
  • Access to necessary data and the use of reliable methods to achieve this research successfully.

In conclusion, Jean Louis Reiffers, coordinator and president of the FEMISE scientific Committee, stresses that on top of research based on micro-economic behaviour and the effects on brain gain, it is necessary to place migration in the consistent context of the greater region. This involves:

  • Reasoning in the framework of North-South interdependence: the nature of the transfer equation, demographic complementarity, circular mobility, etc..
  • To link the trends to increased migration from the South with the evolving capacities of integration in the North
  • To go beyond the migration of people towards analyzing the migration of ideas, particularly through the development of ICT
  • To raise the issue of immigration to the South (particularly from sub-Saharan Africa).

Access to the presentations:

1. Geographic, Gender and Skill Structure of International Migration by  Frédéric Docquier, Marfouk, Ozden and Parsons (powerpoint presentation: see below F. Docquier paper 2)

2. A Unified Analysis of International Migration and Cross Country Inequality by Frédéric Docquier and Khalid Sekkat (download the powerpoint presentations by Docquier)

3. Skilled migration and the transfer of institutional norms by Michel Beine and Khalid Sekkat (download the powerpoint presentation)

4. Emigration and origin country’s institutions: Does the destination country matter? by Michel Beine and Khalid Sekkat (download the powerpoint presentation)

5. The Impact of Remittances on Education in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon by Jad Chaaban and Wael Mansour (download the powerpoint presentation)

6. Return Migration and Entrepreneurship in Morocco by Bachir Hamdouch and Jackline Wahba

7. Return Migration and Labor Market Outcomes in Egypt By Jackline Wahba

8. Egyptian Men Working Abroad: Labour Supply Responses by the Women Left Behind, By Ragui Assad (download the powerpoint presentation)

9. The Euro-Med Perspective on Migration: The Role of Economic and Social Reforms By Wai Mun Hong, Alejandro Lorca, Eva Medina (download the paper)

10. Impact des transferts de fonds sur la pauvreté et les inégalités : les premiers résultats d’une enquête conduite au Maroc by E.M. Mouhoud et Hicham Hanchane (download the paper/download the powerpoint presentation)

11. Towards a Future Research Agenda on International Migration in MENA By Jackline Wahba

Articles based on this workshop:

Remittances from migrants an asset to countries of origin

2010 Euromed Report: The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership at Crossroads

an-2010gbFEMISE has released its latest report on the Euromediterranean Partnership and the situation of the Mediterranean countries. The subject of this year’s report is focused on the factors circulation and human mobility.

To address these issues, this first part of the report is organized in 4 main chapters: (i) The first chapter aims to determine the effect and the remaining potential of the free trade area that was to be established in the framework of Barcelona process; (ii) The second chapter details the state of the capital flow mobility in the region, as well as its impact, especially in terms of volatility; (iii) The third chapter is devoted to give an overview of the current level of labour mobility in the Euromed region and some reflexion on the possibility of enhancing potential benefits; (iv) the fourth chapter proposes an overview of the human development in the Euromed region, with emphasis on the poverty and the level and determinants of inequalities.

In the second part, the report addresses the current situation of the south Mediterranean economies concerned, country by country.

Download the English version of the Report (271 pages – 4,8 Mo)

The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership at Crossroads
Table of Contents


Part one

Chapter 1. Impact of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership 15 Years after Barcelona: What Do we Know ? What Can be done?

I. Main characteristics of the EU-MPs trade patterns since 1995

II. Quantitative assessments of the Euromed agreements : a survey and critical analysis

Chapter 2. Capital Flows In The Euro-Med Region

I. Introduction

II.Trends in Capital Flows in the MPs: 2004-2009

III. Capital Flows Impact, Volatility, and Contribution to Investment and Debt

IV. Policy Recommendations

Chapter 3. Mobility of Labour in the EU-Med: Potentials vs Constraints?


I. Mobility across the Mediterranean: Labour and Remittances

II. Impediments to a beneficiary migration process in the EU-Med region

III.Achieving the Potential benefits of Migration in the EU-Med: How?

Chapter 4: Review of poverty in the MPCs

I. Survey of poverty and human development in the Mediterranean region

II. Link between growth, inequalities and poverty in the region

III. The determining factors of inequalities in Mediterranean countries:

study of the role of sources of income, employment and commercial opening

IV. Conclusion


Part two – Detailed situation in MPs : country sheets