You are on page 1of 5

What role will migration play in 21st century demographic change?

Some phenomena cannot be reversed because they underlie our very nature or the way our societies are driven, they are part of the evolution of human organisations. Progress in sciences, should they be technological, medical or social, have let humanity foster its population growth since the middle of the 20th century li e never before. !he "emographic !ransition !heory demonstrates how from a high fertility#high mortality situation, improvements in wealth and nowledge lead to a low fertility#low mortality one and a substantial demographic increase. $rom 1%&0 to 2010, the world population grew by '.& billion people, rising from 2.& to ( billion, hence was multiplied by almost ) over this period1. !he ne*t '0 years might see the birth of some additional ) billion. +n 20&0, we then could be up to 10 billion humans. ,igher e*pectancy of life and low fertility combine into -a demographic bomb. /Professor Sarah ,arper0. !ogether, they generate 1uite concerning pyramids of ages for most of the developed countries, because this huge population growth is not evenly distributed. $or an e*ample, over the ne*t half#century 2urope will decline from ()3 million to (1% million inhabitants2. +n other words, its relative weight will tumble from almost 114 to (4 of the total population of the world. !he Potential Support 5atio /PS50, which describes the re1uired solidarity placed on the shoulders of the wor ing population) by the non#wor ing elderly population, is currently 6ust over ' in 2urope. +n 20&0, it may be as low as 1.&' and reflect an increasing social support burden. !herefore, long#term and engaging solutions have to be found. 7an you as people to have more children overnight? 7an you change mentality and familial behaviour? Will the cost, financial and moral&, of bearing offspring be alleviated in the near future? !hese are possible answers to one of the biggest /at least in terms of figures0 challenges of our time. 8et one could e*plore e*ternal solutions as well, in other words rely on migration to answer to the threat of the demographic change, that of the population ageing. 9igration is not an easy solution however. +t is a dynamic process engaging multiples parties. ,ence, after a 1uic observation of the mechanisms leading to this phenomenon, we will try

United Nations Population Division, World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision cited by David E. Bloom, 7 Billion and Counting, Science 29 July 2011 vol. !!! no. "0#2 $"2%$"9 2 P&o'esso& Sa&a( )a&pe&, The End of Youth, 2"*0!*201! 3 1$ to "# yea&s old, unemployment and c(ild&en a&e not conside&ed in t(is measu&e 4 David +oleman, The de ographic effects of international igration in Europe! "#ford Revie$ of Econo ic Polic%, ,olume 2#, Numbe& !, 200-, pp.#$2.#/", 01'o&d Unive&sity P&ess 5 2& love % child! & hate % life3, The 'er ans, (as Politi) und *eitung +aga,in, issue o' June%July 201!

to estimate its possible effects over the social organi:ations. $inally, we will engage in the actions re1uired to concreti:e this possible migration into an actual support.

9igration schemes, and particularly mass migration, are not instant triggers but rather are outcomes of multiple streams of factors, their mechanisms need to be analysed in order to understand the conditions under which people may ta e the decision to leave behind their family and social entourage and ta e a chance on what is, most of the time, the un nown;. <ne of those is demographic. !he less and least developed countries( will capture %(4 of the total demographic increase, totali:ing around 2.% billion newly born people. =ll of them will apply a tension on lands, populated areas and food resources3. <ut of this situation, migration can operate. People from rural areas will move to urban ones, in their own countries or abroad. 2ven if this is a not a necessary conse1uence, there is a factual correlation between demographic growth and migration. >ew conte*ts, in the places where they currently live or where they could settle, are incentives to relocate. !he destination of these migrants can vary, depending on their situations and e*pectations. <bviously, ma6or political events used to be a ma6or cause in historical e*odus. !he 20th 7entury was the scene of numerous geostrategic flip#overs which forced complete communities to relocate%, we can then tal of suffered migration. <n the other hand, family gatherings are voluntary initiatives. !hose are mainly the outcome of successful pioneers who managed to ma e a better living by ta ing a chance on a foreign country. ?et us ta e the e*ample of the 9iddle#2ast emigrants. @etween 13&0 and 1%00, one third of the population of current ?ebanon and West Syria had left for the =mericas. 9ost of them settled in South =merica, in @ra:il, as merchants and entrepreneurs10. 2conomic success, or at least a sustainable financial situation, is the one of the main factor that convinces people -left behind. to 6oin the pioneers. !he same process applied to various communities around the world.

)u4o 5&aeme, -uture de ographic change and its interactions $ith igration and cli ate change in ' Environ ental Change 21S 620117 S21.S!!, 888.elsevie&.com*locate*4loenvc(a 7 9'&ica, 9sia 6e1cludin4 Japan7, :atin 9me&ica and t(e +a&ibbean, ;elanesia, ;ic&onesia, and Polynesia 8 )u4o 5&aeme, -uture de ographic change and its interactions $ith igration and cli ate change in ' Environ ental Change 21S 620117 S21.S!!, 888.elsevie&.com*locate*4loenvc(a 9 David +oleman, The de ographic effects of international igration in Europe! "#ford Revie$ of Econo ic Polic%, ,olume 2#, Numbe& !, 200-, p.#$-, 01'o&d Unive&sity P&ess 10 D&. El )ac(em%<i&by, Entrepreneurs /i.anais 0 12o Paulo! 3ne tra4ectoire ascendante , 2012, P(D t(esis in Sociolo4y, suppo&ted at Pa&is So&bonne%+it= Unive&sity

!he impact of the emigrants on their home countryAs economy is particularly important. !he remittances flows to developing countries officially recorded by the World @an reached B))3 billion for the sole year of 2003. Some communities depend largely on these funds to grow, so it is understandable to see some countries, through their governments or their local people, preferring eeping their out#migrants abroad11. !hese latter have historically been some of the ma6or actors of their countriesA economic emergence. <n the other side, immigrants are also an additional strength to their hosts. !hey add their wor force and most of the time, ta e the occupations left vacant by the locals. =s such, +mmigration plays an important part in the mar et fluidity12. +t was recently proved that they also participate in the economic growth of their countries of destination1). !his can maybe be e*plained by the profile of most migrants. <n average, because of being of lower education, they ta e ingrate 6obs or settle as -necessity. entrepreneurs. !hese are young men, mostly under )& years old years, sponsored by their original community to succeed somewhere and who have to ma e enough money to sustain their family, and bring them into the host country eventually1'. !he cultural resistance effect ma e that these people arrive with the mind#set inherited from their original place, almost always a poorer country. =mong others, one of the cultural traits they import is their fertility rate which tends to be higher1&. !his latest point is particularly interesting in the scope of the demographic change of the developed countries. +n the 1&#)' years range, between 200& and 20)0 2urope is e*pected to lose &0 million people, whereas =frica and the 9iddle#2ast will respectively gain 130 and 22 million. We could also add that 2uropean population are below $ertility 5eplacement 5ate /under 2.10 whereas the countries which are li ely to produce mass migration can have one up to &.)31;. +t is not, indeed not, enough to say that on a pure algebraic basis, a transfer of wor force from these regions to 2urope would close the generational gap, because people leaving this range mostly enter the ne*t older one and that only unprecedented waves could fill that gap1(, but this observation can give a first snapshot of their -usefulness. on harmoni:ing a national demographic
11 12

;a&tin, 2009 )u4o 5&aeme, -uture de ographic change and its interactions $ith igration and cli ate change in ' Environ ental Change 21S 620117 S21.S!!, 888.elsevie&.com*locate*4loenvc(a 13 )ippolyte d>9:B?S, E@&ame B0UBA9NE, D&amane +0U:?B9:B, & igration et croissance 5cono i6ue en -rance entre 1778 et 2009, Etudes et (ocu ents n: 0;. Janua&y 201!. +ECD?. "$ BD. D. ;?AAECC9ND 14 D&. El )ac(em%<i&by, Entrepreneurs /i.anais 0 12o Paulo! 3ne tra4ectoire ascendante , 2012, P(D t(esis in Sociolo4y, suppo&ted at Pa&is So&bonne%+it= Unive&sity 15 David +oleman, The de ographic effects of international igration in Europe! "#ford Revie$ of Econo ic Polic%, ,olume 2#, Numbe& !, 200-, p.#"!, 01'o&d Unive&sity P&ess 16 4lobal(ealt('acts.o&4, national statistics o''ices 17 David Coleman, The demographic effects of international migration in Europe, Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Volume 24, Number 3, 2008, p.468, O !ord "niver#i$% &re##

structure. ,owever we cannot consider immigration as a tool. 5ecent changes inside the organi:ation of the countries providing it have to be ta en into account to reshape our migration policies and ma e the most of this opportunity.

Productivity of the immigrants from less developed countries has been increasing since the rise of the global mar ets /labour, trade and e1uity mar et0, of the +nternet and all the new means of communication, the learning and improving possibilities they convey13. !he aspirations have changed, as the =rab Spring might have revealed it. ?oo ing at a world map, one can be particularly interested by the convergence of different factors on a same place. Poor countries are not poor any more, they are -emerging. countries. <n an economic perspective, C"P is driven by productivity and demography. !hese countries are improving in both fields, and will li ely eep on this trac . +t is allowed to wonder if going abroad is still a preferred solution for these populations, especially in the 2uropean countries, especially since the global economic downturn1%. !he 1uestion is especially important if we ta e into account the difficulties of migrants have encountered in the past. 9any attempts to integrate fully foreigners as citi:ens have failed, so far. !he difference is that this time, developed hosting countries may figure out that this is an essential tool Dnot the only one, but still fundamental# for the continuation of the social functions as we now them. !he role of institutions will be particularly rattled, provided that the amount of population developed countries will have to welcome in order to eep a Potential Support 5atio around the current figure, will be an overwhelming one. +t could be more than their current residents. Erban areas will have to be made more efficient in terms of capacity, of transport, of energy supplying, of education. =lmost every aspect of our way of life will have to be redefined to smoothly integrate these inflows. !he propositions we will have to formulate should be in line with their e*pectations, because tomorrow, migrants will be sought#after resources that developed and ageing countries will compete. !herefore it is fundamental to consider them not as a threat, not as an opportunity either, but as a precious good. +mmigration runs both ways, and only those who can thin collaboratively will attract the favours of emerging countriesA governments and people.

'u(o )raeme, Future demographic change and its interactions with migration and climate change in Global Environmental hange 21* +2011, *21-*33, ....el#evier./om0lo/a$e0(loenv/1a 19 23456 785)'4 and 85C'38D 9:3C2, !ournal of "nternational #evelopment !$ "nt$ #ev$ %&, '''(')* +2011, &ubli#1ed online in 7ile% Online :ibrar% +.ile%onlinelibrar%./om, DO5; 10.10020<id.1792

"rawing a straightforward and concise conclusion upon the influence of immigration on the demographic change would be li e see ing future through a crystal ball. +t would mainly rely on concordisme, or reverse#engineering. Some thoughts come clear to the mind though. $irst, it is obvious that immigration is a re1uirement for developed countries, mainly 2uropean ones, if they want to maintain their social system in more or less their current state. Will immigration happen or not, and particularly, will immigration replenish 2uropean countriesA young wor force is another story. !he main difference compared to the past seems to be its power of seduction. =bundant literacy e*ist about the way 2uropean politics tried to attract, re6ect, sometimes in the same time, foreigners, without being really convincing about the results of their strategies. !he immensity of the re1uired inflows is such that every aspect of the population structure will be radically transformed forever, in terms of scale, age, culture, ethnicity and religion. !he latter criteria are fundamental and should be analysed thoroughly. <ne of the most successful integration of foreign people in the recent period, that of the 9iddle#2ast migrants in @ra:il, mostly relied on a good match on those aspects. 20 to )04 of the @ra:ilian Parliament is of this ascendance today and the syncretism of the country is often cited as e*emplary /even if that did not happen overnight0. <n the other side of the coin, lots of troubles between populations occurred because of confrontations of identities based on the same elements. 9igrations of such magnitude re1uire thin ing further than only at the hori:on of &0 years or so. Should they come and -save the place., these people will become old as well, one day. Ese their help for that momentum can only be a first aid. !heir presence will not only eep the system standing, it will change its very nature and roots. @y circular iterance, mass migration from the current developed countries cannot be e*cluded, one could even it may be e*pected or favoured. @ecause the world in the future is li ely to tend towards intertwined cultures, it is maybe the right time to start thin ing about how we define our identity, and even the concept of nations and states.