October 29th, 2008 | Posted in Immigration/Migration
by Carl Haub, Senior Demographer
The Global Forum on Migration and Development, a global initiative within the framework of the UN General Assembly is having its annual meetings this week in Manila. This got me to thinking how global patterns of migration have changed and how they continue to change. A century or more ago, the big story would have been unfettered migration to that grand, nearly empty, continent, America. Hard economic times and famines drove many migrants from Germany, Ireland, Sweden, and the like. Anyone who could afford a ticket could become one of the newest Americans. That “escape valve” is no longer unregulated and migrating to the United States and Canada is no longer the free-for-all it once was.
After World war II, Europe began to have the American experience more and more, receiving increasing numbers of migrants from former or existing colonies or as “temporary” guest workers. Much of that was facilitated by the airplane. People used to note that planes to New York from San Juan came in full and went out empty. Now we see a rising tide of ‘south-south” migration. Just as the kinetic pull of higher wage rates pulls migrants from Mexico to the United States, so do migrants from Guatemala enter Mexico. So many Bangladeshis flood into India that India is once again planning a border fence.
Many national reactions to these streams of migrants have been schizophrenic at best. The UK seemed to have a liberal policy toward new EU migrants but now enthusiasm for non-English-speaking migrants is waning. There is now a debate about adopting an Australian style point system. With few exceptions, it seems that the world wants to move to a world without migration even if more hands and more workers paying taxes are actually needed. Maybe the population bomb has found its fuse.
For more, take a look at PRB’s Population Bulletin - Managing Migration: The Global Challenge and Is Woolas Right? from The Guardian UK Politics Blog.