Published on People Move

Policy Coherence on Migration and Development

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(In observance of the International Migrants Day on December 18)

Achieving policy coherence regarding migration and development requires more effective data, analysis, monitoring and evaluation of the interconnections between the two phenomena. Progress has been made by the World Bank, OECD, UN Population Division and others in improving the collection and publication of data on international migrants and remittances but more needs to be done in this area. There are still gaps in the production of good data for policy making. While aggregate data are improved, not all countries produce precisely the same information and some countries collect almost no data on migration or its linkages to development. The Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) has repeatedly called upon governments to introduce modules on migration into censuses and household and labor surveys. Some of these modules are being tested to determine the best ways to collect needed information. Encouragement of even greater progress in this area is essential to promoting policy coherence. So too are improvements in the collection and use of administrative data on migration and development and their inter-linkages.

One way to promote greater policy coherence is through the mainstreaming of migration into development planning. The Global Migration Group (GMG) handbook is a good first step in that process; the results of the evaluation of the pilot program for implementation will be instructive for policy coherence purposes. Beyond the piloting, training is needed for government officials as well as the international organizations that advise States on development plans to achieve such mainstreaming. Policy documents such as Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) are still very spotty as they relate to migration issues. Many do not reference migration, even when a significant portion of the population emigrates or remittances are a substantial part of national income. Where migration comes into play, it is usually seen through purely economic measures (such as financial remittances) and much less frequently through social or human development measures. Effective analysis of the migration-development nexus is also lacking in national adaptation programs of action in the context of climate change. The impacts of South-South migration are seldom discussed in the context of development of either source or destination countries despite the growing number of migrants who migrate within their own countries or from poorer to wealthier developing countries.

Donor governments have only recently become aware of the importance of migration in their development planning. To the extent that these issues are on the agenda, they are usually conceived as ways to help migrants and diaspora contribute to the development of their home countries. Seldom is the reverse relationship considered—that is, ways in which development of source countries could be factored into migration policy planning. Migration policies are more likely to be adopted based on national interests of the receiving countries rather than the development interests of countries of origin. A part of policy coherence is identifying ways to achieve both ends—immigration policies that are in the interest of both destinations and sources of migrants.

A longer version of this text was an input to the KNOMAD workshop “Strengthening the Migration-Development Nexus through Improved Policy and Institutional Coherence”, December 4-5, 2013, Paris. All opinion notes from this workshop are available via


Susan Martin

Director, Institute for the Study of International Migration, School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University

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