It is the opinion of this paper that economic pressures are the most important factors that influence international migration flows. To prove this point, it is important to first use the Philippines and Mexico as examples to showcase the general attitude people have towards migrating towards other countries. Based on an analysis of the class readings, it can be stated that economic pressures within developing countries often come about due to a lack of economic opportunity.
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Simply put, potential immigrants within their respective developing countries perceive that there is a distinct lack of opportunity within their native country and, as such, make the decision to migrate to developed countries to take advantage of the supposedly “limitless” opportunities that these countries possess. One manifestation of this comes in the form of “the American Dream” which has convinced many potential immigrants in Mexico to go to the U.S. where they believe that the “land of opportunity” will be able to give them the sort of life that they do not have within their home country.
It should also be noted that from a demographic perspective, developing countries do have significant hurdles for people attempting to make a better life for themselves. For instance, countries such as Mexico and the Philippines do not have the same Federal loan program that allows high school graduates in the U.S. to take out a loan to pay for their college education.
As a result, high school graduates within these countries are often limited when it comes to their educational opportunities that go beyond the mandatory grade school and high school education that is set by their respective governments. Not only that, the unemployment rate in these locations often consists of 7 to 8 percent of the local population resulting in a considerable amount of competition for jobs. While skilled white-collar labor is always in demand within the Philippines and Mexico, the same cannot be said for unskilled blue-collar workers who just have high school diplomas. It is often the case that these individuals have to compete in an already overly saturated blue-collar workforce resulting in fewer instances where they can find decent jobs.
Another example that showcases economic pressures as the most important factor when it comes to international migration can be seen in the case of the Central African States and the establishment of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (aptly named CEMAC). This organization dealt primarily with facilitating the migration of workers from one central African state to another due to the high demand for labor in one country and low economic conditions in the other. Money is a great motivator and, as such, people migrate to make more of it to afford the sort of life that they want to live.
This is why economic pressures can be considered as the most important factor that causes international migration flows due to the perceived lack of money-making opportunities in one country and the apparent excess of opportunity in another. It should be noted though that aside from economic pressures, immigration policies are the second most important factor when it comes to international migration flows. The reasoning behind this is quite simple, if a country sets several “blocks” when it comes to its immigration policy, then it is unlikely that people can migrate to that country. For example, countries such as Canada are normally open to migration due to their declining population rate, however, this policy is often based on what sort of professional capacity or talent a person has that can contribute to the greater whole of Canadian society.
Without such a talent in place, Canada’s immigration policy normally turns that person away. In the case of Japan, a mix of xenophobia and paranoia is at work with the immigration policy in their country wherein less than 2% of the local population consists of foreigners and even fewer people become Japanese citizens. The reasoning behind this is connected to the general apprehension that the government and the local population have towards “gaijin” (i.e. outsiders).
On the other end of the spectrum, regions such as the E.U. (European Union) have very open migration policies with their member states which allow workers from one country to travel and work in an adjoining country without any issues. Based on this, it can be seen that migration policies can have a significant impact on international migration flows. While there are countries that are open to migration and willing to do so, such as Canada, there are others that balk at the prospect of “open migration” which results in extremely strict policies that are meant to severely constrain the number of migrants that enter into the country.
It should be noted though that economic pressure also happens to influence migration policy since, as seen in the case of Canada, declining population levels often necessitate the need to bring in foreign workers to offset the declining local labor force. Without such an instrument in place, the local economy would collapse due to the lack of sufficient labor. This showcases how economic pressure is often connected in a myriad of ways to the international flow of immigrants.