International Labour Migration

International labour migration occurs when people cross state boundaries and stay in the host state for some minimum length of time.

International labour migration is defined as,“ the movement of people from one country to another for the purpose of employment.” For example, IT Professionals, doctors, architects from india migrate to USA and other European countries.

Today, an estimated 105 million persons are working in a country other than their country of birth.

Labour mobility has become a key feature of globalization and the global economy with migrant workers earning US$ 440 billion in 2011, and the World Bank estimating that more than $350 billion of that total was transferred to developing countries in the form of remittances.

However, despite the efforts made to ensure the protection of migrant workers, many remain vulnerable and assume significant risks during the migration process.

When properly managed, labour migration has far-reaching potential for the migrants, their communities, the countries of origin and destination, and for employers.

While job creation in the home country is the preferred option, demographic, social and economic factors are increasingly the drivers of migration. As a result, a growing number of both sending and receiving countries view international labour migration as an integral part of their national development and employment strategies.

On one hand, countries of origin benefit from labour migration because it relieves unemployment pressures and contributes to development through remittances, knowledge transfer, and the creation of business and trade networks.

On the other hand, for destination countries facing labour shortages, orderly and well-managed labour migration can lighten labour scarcity and facilitate mobility.

Causes of International Labour Migration.

1] Economic oportunity

Many people leave their home countries in order to look for economic opportunities [to earn a living] in another country.

2] To earn a higher income

The most important motive for international labour migration is to earn higher incomes. The economic disparities between countries, is a major reason for this.

3] To earn a social status

A foreign return person, one who is an NRI, one who works abroad or travels abroad for work enjoy a social status.

4] To facilitate search of adventure, exploration and curiosity

Some visit other lands from a sense of adventure, curiosity or for exploration and the emerging demand for labour may provide the required opportunity.

5] Unite with family

Others migrate to be with family members who have migrated or because of political conditions in their countries.

6] Education

Education is another reason for international migration, as students pursue their studies abroad.

7] To flee from persecution and armed conflict

Many times migrants are forced out of their countries due to armed conflict, persecution at home, environmental degradation etc. eg migrants from Myanmar to Thailand, Afghanistan to Pakistan etc.

International migrants can be categorizing into nine groups:

1] Temporary labour migrants;

2] Irregular, illegal, or undocumented migrants;

3] Highly skilled and Business migrants;

4] Refugees

5] asylum seekers

6] forced migration; f

7] Family members;

8] Return migrants; and

9] Long-term, low-skilled migrants.


These migrants can also be divided into two large groups,

1] Permanent

Permanent migrants intend to establish their permanent residence in a new country and possibly obtain that country’s citizenship.

2] Temporary.

Temporary migrants intend only to stay for a limited periods of time; perhaps until the end of a particular program of study or for the duration of a their work contract or a certain work season.

Both types of migrants have a significant effect on the economies and societies of the chosen destination country and the country of origin.

Similarly, the countries which receive these migrants are often grouped into four categories:

1] Traditional settlement countries,

2] European countries which encouraged labour migration after World War II,

3] European countries which receive a significant portion of their immigrant populations from their former colonies, and

4] Countries which formerly were points of emigration but have recently emerged as immigrant destinations.

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