International Migration: Prospects and Policies in a Global Market

International Migration: Prospects and Policies in a Global Market

International Migration: Prospects and Policies in a Global Market

International Migration: Prospects and Policies in a Global Market


This study offers a comprehensive, up-to-date survey of global patterns of international migration and the policies employed to manage the flows. It shows that international migration is not rooted in poverty or rapid population growth, but in the expansion and consolidation of global markets. The insertion of non-market societies into global networks of trade unleashes structural transformations that displace people to create migrants. Globalization also creates infrastructures of transportation, communication, and social networks to put developed societies within reach.


Marek OkÓlski

International migration in Central and Eastern Europe is a striking example of how quickly population processes respond to political and economic transformations. Before 1990, not only emigration, but all international travel was severely limited throughout the region. Aside from short bursts of politically driven emigration from Hungary (following the 1956 uprising), Czechoslovakia (after the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion), and Poland (after the 1980 liberalization), movement was restricted and mostly limited to settled migration for purposes of family reunification, the “repatriation” of selected ethnic minorities, or controlled movements of workers within the framework of the Soviet-sponsored economic union, the Council of Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON). Since the onset of the transition to a market economy and democratic rule, this picture has radically changed.

First, the rate of international migration, both documented and undocumented, has substantially increased. Second, despite widely shared expectations to the contrary, this movement, for the most part, did not spill over the region's boundaries into the West, but was contained within Central and Eastern Europe (CEE, which includes the former Council of Mutual Economic Assistance, including the new post-Soviet entities but excluding the ex-German Democratic Republic). Third, the number and complexity of links between sending and receiving countries grew dramatically, a shift attributable to the emergence of new states and their growing connection to nations both inside the region (e.g. Albania and Ukraine) and outside of it (e.g. Afghanistan, China, India, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam). Fourth, population mobility shifted from a predominance of long-term, settled migration to recurrent short-term movements. Fifth, population flows diversified dramatically with respect to socioeconomic origins, bringing about large-scale movements that were unknown in the past. Finally, the pace of change was exceptional, occurring so rapidly that after less than a decade, the momentum may already have passed (Okólski 1998a).

These new migratory patterns may follow naturally from the establishment of democratic order, the rule of law, functioning markets, and viable institutions in civil society, and not reflect the emergence of any extraordinary “push” or “pull” factors. Several questions, nonetheless, arise: How stable and durable will the new trends

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