• Hubert Marlin

Migrations and economy

For eons Migration has been at the center of the creation and development of human societies. According to prof. Henri Guitton Science is knowledge, an acknowledgement, It is a penetration, taking possession by the mind of certain objects of the world. Also, many have been trying to find a scientific explanation of the effect of people's migration on the economy, by rationalizing the impact of migration on the economies of countries. Trade, exchanges, the creation of the wealth is done thanks to communication. And communication, implies travel from one point to another of people and goods. The existence of life and the development of the world until the present era is the fruit of exchanges and migrations. Exchanges and migrations that have sometimes been cruelly carried out, as the turbulent history of slavery and Western colonization throughout the world, which has witnessed its share of forced migrations of populations, perfectly illustrates.For thousands of years individuals who had means, could travel where ever they wanted, but the creation of the so-called modern states and the rise of national selfishness, a corollary of the state's navel-gazing, at the beginning of the 20th century, struck free movements, by adopting strict regulations governing migration.If in ancient Rome the codification already made foreigners second-class citizens, to whom certain rights were prohibited such as to own the land or even to marry with the local population, by the yardstick of the emergence of protectionist policies around the world, immigration has become a Trojan horse for politicians who use it wrongly or shadily to justify their political agendas. Stigmatizing xenophobia to ensure the vote of citizens, frustrated economically, by scabrous management of public affairs that are not the fact of migrants. However, the reality of migration and its impact on the economies of the countries of the northern and southern hemispheres is far removed from the clichés carried by the Western press and demagogues. The figures reflect facts that definitely discredit the idea of the profligate, criminal and unemployment-creating migrant. A slogan brandished by the wave of fascist populism, which seems to affect the West lately. The oxymoron is the figure of speech that best reflects the idea of a migrant eager to take menial jobs, which are hated by the nationals, but who nevertheless would be a factor of unemployment.

In a trickery worthy of prestidigitation, it is illusory to ignore rationalism, in a Western society that pride itself in Cartesianism, by making the layman believe that the response to an offer creates a lack, when it is the opposite. A job offer provided, always creates another economic opportunity. when the illegal statuses of migrants proscribes their legal employment in positions coveted by nationals, in a classic example, the migrant who would live from odd jobs would at least help consolidate the money transfer industry in the host country, while becoming an important factor in the fight against underdevelopment in its home country with remittances, which in recent years in the case of African and Latin American countries have contributed to the decrease of misery in the tropics, better than the famous development aid of the countries of the northern hemisphere towards the southern countries. In spite of this, aid, is in fact loans tainted with clauses of pre-contracts, on the exploitation of certain strategic mineral resources; when it is not the governments who are summoned either to resign or to observe certain directives which undermine the sovereignty of the States. In 2017, African immigrants living in the West sent more than $ 65 billion back to Africa, more than double the $ 29 billion in development (loans) aid. The United Nations Development Program surveys estimate that the number of international migrants and refugees in the world in the early 1990s was in the order of 120 to 130 million, compared with 70 million in the early 1960s. in 2019 this number could be about 150 million, more than the double of what was observed at the beginning of the 1960s, while the world population itself has more than doubled, from 3 billion in 1960 to more than 7 billion in 2019. With a proportion of international migrants and refugees, which has remained the same at 2.5% of the world's population. However, it is important to note that apart from the fact that the world population has doubled, in the last 30 years the countries of the southern hemisphere will have also experienced conflicts, maintained precisely by Western ideology which has often forced itself to support systemic conflicts of economic war under the pretext of democracy and liberal economy, thus helping to create a chaos that has thrown on the roads of the exile since the 60s, millions of individuals.

Failed states in the case of a country like Libya, Congo or Somalia offer limitless possibilities in the servile exploitation of resources. When the state authority turns pale, there is no more tax payable to a normally structured country to exploit certain resources, but a few handfuls of dollars here and there distributed to a few war dogs are enough to ensure access to resources. The most miserable or less educated citizens are not always the most likely to immigrate. In reality, the best candidates for immigration are those who often have a level of education that allows them to have a desire to immigrate. Also, immigrants from countries colonized by the West, in Africa, tend to believe that achieving their best ambitions is possible only in the largest Western cities. Despite the end of colonization, the social economic model of making Africa a wild field of exploitation, and of the West the city that enjoys wealth and modernity from the field of exploitation, logically underlies a kind of rural exodus.

Apart from Western propaganda, which always make some believe that it’s better in the West than in Africa, or in the Pacific and the Caribbean, the realities on the ground are scathing. On average, the gross domestic product of countries of the northern hemisphere is 1200 times higher than those of the countries of the southern hemisphere, and with the globalization of consumption, a citizen of the southern countries with his salary cannot, in general afford the last cry of technology devices, like his western counterpart, yet they all have access to the internet and are necessarily influenced by international and economic news. To fill this gap, the principle of creating a preferential economic system for markets where the GDP of the population is low, has often been mentioned, but it runs counter to the economic laws of profit, because it would be difficult to sell on the Internet a music that was produced with the same means at a price of positive discrimination for Africa and Latin America. As nature hates imbalance, the shady economy or black market has logically imposed itself to fill this lack of demand mismatch, with the ultra-expensive supply. Also, piracy has found an ideal market to spread. It is not so surprising to see a movie that has just been released in Hollywood to be hustled by street vendors in Douala or Lagos. In the same way networks of counterfeit technology or even the theft and smuggling of technologically advanced devices have developed to bring to African and Latin American the benefits of technology at an affordable price.

The breakthrough of China in Africa with cheap technology is also explained, when one takes into account the gulf of purchasing power that exists between the citizens of the countries of the northern and southern hemisphere. .Between the middle of the 19th century and the 1930s, emigration from Europe to America and from Asian workers to plantations and large shipyards in America, Africa and Asia involved 100 million peoples. For a world population which in 1900 was four times lower than that of 2019. Similarly, after the Second World War the reconstruction of Western Europe, was made with the help of immigrants from Southern Europe and Eastern Europe. It is estimated that more than 60 million European migrants settled in Western Europe. The explosion of conflict over the influence and access to resources during and after the end of the Cold War has created an astronomical number of refugees around the world. However, many do not admit that the greatest number of refugees settle in priority in neighboring countries. The number of refugees identified by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees increased from about 1.5 million in the early 1960s to 12 million in the late 1990s, of which nearly 5 million in Asia and 3.5 million in Africa. And the available data suggest that the majority of new migrants and refugees are now heading to other southern countries, neighbors or from the same region, and not to the countries of the North. The West in general, has always encouraged immigration when it suited its economic situation, and paradoxically the European countries like Spain, Italy, Greece or Portugal which today have completely closed their frontiers to immigration are those who for more than a century have provided the largest group of immigrants around the world. In Africa, for example, business houses founded by Greek immigrants have existed for generations, while Italian immigrant communities are well known in North America and Latin America. During the boom years of the 1950s and 1960s, migrations to Western Europe and North America from less affluent countries, neighbors and faraway, were officially encouraged.

The main problem was then to satisfy labor needs and to pursue growth, through migration, considered as beneficial and necessary for the development of the countries of destination, and incidentally where those migrants were coming from, by cash flows and technology transfer. There is a natural selection that underlies immigration. Like it or not, only immigrants who have the means, leave. To emigrate, especially from a poor country to a rich country, it is necessary to have assets and knowledge, money of departure, minimum of education, a good health, and relations in the country of destination, which are out of reach for the majority of Third World citizens, especially the least educated and the poorest. And in any case, whoever is a candidate for immigration even when he has no money, at least enjoys a robust health that will allow him to cross the Sahara desert from Africa to Europe or the Atacama desert from Latin America to North America. Paradoxically, countries that start a growth curve in economic development often provide more immigrants. The design in this case is often to look elsewhere, for ways to maintain growth often through knowledge. Also, in the 70s, 80s, and 90s China produced a university elite that trained in the best Western schools. Similarly, today in the case of an emerging country like Ethiopia, one can note that its diaspora similarly to the Chinese of the 70s, 80s, and 90s, is found in the countries of the northern hemisphere like the United States and contributes greatly to the development of Ethiopia.

However, after an exponential phase of development the desire to stay at home appears logically. Also like the Spaniards and Italians who after the sixties decided to stay at home, the Chinese since the 2000s decide more and more to stay home, and travel only for specific reasons of education, business opportunity, or leisure. Immigration, aimed at improving the economic situation of individuals, is no longer preponderant, since the country can now fulfill its social and economic obligations to its citizens. The strangulation of countries of the southern hemisphere by slavish exploitation of their resources reinforces their impoverishment. Also, in Niger, one of the world's largest producers of uranium through the French multinational AREVA, which pays little or nothing to the Nigerien state, the national product per capita is currently $ 200 per year. Niger would take 100 years to reach the current national product per capita of Western European countries of $ 25,000, if the annual growth of its national product per capita was maintained at 5%, and 250 years with annual growth of 2%. If, despite the abysmal differences in income between the North and the South, there are not more international migrants, it is because, on one hand, migration cannot be reduced only to its economic dimension, and, on the other hand, extreme poverty and its corollary under-education, coupled with restrictive policies that hamper the mobility of migrants, have a certain effectiveness. By exploiting and creating misery in others lands, it is logical to think that the West tends to hide behind a wall to prevent those who are plundered, to demand accountability by a massive immigration. The link between the slavish exploitation of southern countries and the creation of refugees and migrants is real, because countries that are destabilized in wars of access to resources such as Congo, Libya, Syria, Iraq, or even Venezuela are undoubtedly producing war refugees, just as countries that are bending under neocolonialism like . the so-called francophone Africa, are producing economic refugees Freedom of movement is an intrinsic right of individuals, and freedom of establishment in a country is a right of States. The dilemma is that by restricting the freedom of movement too much, some are negatively affecting trade of all kinds between countries and of course they are creating more misery in the world. By limiting the possibilities of access to knowledge for young people in developing countries, the West is creating a situation that is detrimental both to the economies of the southern countries and to the countries of the northern hemisphere, which, with the palpable aging of their population by 2050 will be short of manpower. This situation is all the more disastrous as today's poor countries, especially with the influence of new partners such as China, are developing. and if by 2050 some southern countries reach the point of satiety that will ensure that these citizens stay rather in their country instead of seeking to immigrate to the West, it will be a great desolation for the Northern Hemisphere. Similarly, the bankruptcy of the retirement funds is announced by 2050 in the United States; because there will not be enough active population to allow the system to continue to function normally.A recent United Nations study, "Replacement Migration", shows, in the case of France, that the pursuit of immigration by 100,000 migrants per year would be necessary to keep the labor force constant at its current level, but that three times more immigration would be necessary to limit to 3 the degradation of the ratio: population of 15 to 64 years versus population of 65 years and more, which is today at 3.5. Is egoism, or even racism that underpins the restrictive migration policies towards the West, be effective enough to overcome the serious problems that will challenge Western society in the near future?

Hubert Marlin


Sources: Jean-Pierre Guengant, "International Migration and Development: The New Paradigms", European Journal of International Migration, 1996 (12) 2, p. 105-119.United Nations (2001). Replacement Migration: Is it a solution to declining and aging populations ?, ST / ESA / SER.A / 206, Sales No. E.01.XIII.19.Georges Tapinos, "Globalization, Regional Integration, International Migration", in "International Migration in 2000", International Social Science Review, September 2000, No. 165, UNESCO / Erès, pp. 343-352.


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