A New MPI Policy Brief: „What we know about circular migration and enhanced mobility”, by Graeme Hugo


Executive Summary:

Migrant-rights advocates and wary publics have both typically viewed circular migration with skepticism. But many experts and policymakers in the migration field — and some in development — have come to recognize the benefits that well-managed circulation can bring to destinations, origins, and to migrants themselves. Circular migration can give destination countries the flexibility to quickly overcome skills shortages while adapting to longterm labor market shifts. It can also serve to relieve labor surpluses in origin countries and provide the local economy with an influx of new skills and capital that migrants bring back with them. For the migrants, circular migration offers the opportunity to gain experience and earn higher wages while retaining valued connections in the home country. Modern communications technologies and the increased ease of mobility have made circulation easier than ever and have changed the way in which circular migration is understood. Although typically considered as flows from a home location to a destination country in the context of a temporary labor contract, circular migration is, in fact, much more complex. Circularity occurs within a variety of migration contexts — including short-term travel by permanent immigrants to their countries of origin or visits by returned migrants to their former countries of destination.

In order for circular migration to be an effective catalyst for development, systems of circularity must be properly managed and well-governed. Destination countries should design their migration policies and programs to be development-friendly, and origin countries should ensure the capital and expertise that migrants bring back are put to good use. Most importantly, destination and origin countries must cooperate to build coherent systems that work for the benefit of all three parties — destinations, origins, and migrants.