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Communities and Human Settlements

Do the Poor Really Benefit from Labor Migration?

Otaviano Canuto's picture

Strong opinions abound on the issue of migration both in sending and receiving countries. But beyond the political discourse, labor migration is now central to the debate on international development and poverty reduction.  Does the migration of workers have a positive development impact? What the evidence shows is that differences in productivity and wages across the world are so large that worker migration offers huge rewards to those who move into higher-paying locations. The development problem, however, is that migrant working programs in high-income countries tend to benefit skilled workers, while the poor and unskilled are left with virtually no point of entry into international labor markets.

How can this change? How can migrant programs increase access to labor markets by the poor and, therefore, have a larger impact on poverty reduction? This is precisely the question that World Bank Senior Economist Manjula Luthria explores in