How Much Does Global Inequality Drive Migration?

How Much Does Global Inequality Drive Migration?


We often think that poverty is the main driver of migration, that most of the world’s poor would leave their homes for a life elsewhere. But it’s not that simple, says Hein de Haas, one of the world’s leading scholars on migration and Professor of Sociology at the University of Amsterdam.

In this episode, Hein explains the connection between the demand for migrant labour in developed countries and migration to those countries. He also challenges the common assumption that welfare benefits in wealthier states drive immigration.

Recommended Reading

A review of net benefit or burden of migration by the OECD says migration is a necessary and substantial source of labour for leading destination countries.

Agricultural workers, factory workers, waiters, and other low-skilled workers are identified as occupations experiencing a labour shortage in this report by the EU Commission.

Oxford University’s Migration Observatory has broken down actual vs. perceived access to welfare benefits of migrants from EU states on their website. You can also access the full study here.

This video titled “The Biggest Idea in Development That No One Really Tried” by development expert Michael Clemens provides some food for thought on the links between labour mobility and international development.

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Hein de Hass

Hein de Haas

Hein is Professor of Sociology at the University of Amsterdam. He was a founding member and director of the International Migration Institute at the University of Oxford. He is a co-author of The Age of Migration, a leading textbook in the field of migration. You can find more information and free downloads of his publications on his website. He also maintains a blog – we recommend this entry titled “Human migration: myths, hysteria and facts” and this one on migration and climate change.