This Blog is also posted in the FPA Latin America Blog.
Europe and the United States had often inherited many benefits from economic growth in the pre-2008 era. One of those consequences, especially for those countries on the border or across the sea from developing nations is legal and illegal migration into their economies. Due to the recent economic troubles a lack of work has prevailed and often manual labour jobs have dwindled, leaving legal and illegal migrants with few options for employment. Signs of “reverse migration” back towards their countries of origin took hold with many illegal migrants living in the United States eight to nine months ago. Now with unemployment rates pushing 20 percent in many European countries, many immigrants in European countries are making their way back to their hometowns.
In a New York Times article this week an analysis of why and how European migrants are returning home was published. The focus of the article was on migrants in Spain, often coming from Eastern Europe and South America to work in an economy that was the source of the EU economic boom since 2000. Spain and Ireland were known as the two EU countries in the last few years that have benefitted from innovative and continuous economic growth after the year 2000. The rate of inter-EU and immigration from abroad expanded their economies, population and cultures in return. Now many immigrants to Spain have become the first to leave the country with an unemployment rate of 17.4 percent. Responses to these issues have come from many sources. The Czech Government, in an attempt to ease the pressures on Czech émigrés has offered 500 Euros to help their citizens return to the Czech Republic. In Spain, the Spanish Government has offered legal immigrants from South America their unemployment payment in one lump sum if they agree to leave Spain and not return for three years. Many others have simply left back to their home countries without any assistance as one migrant to Ireland said: “it is much easier to be at home with family and with friends and not to have a job,” she said, “than to be here and not to have a job.”
Problems in places like Europe and the US might be difficult, but problems from the Economic Crisis in Eastern Europe and South America have not been much better. This week the World Bank and IMF have been working out methods and strategies to help economies in the developing world and now even developed countries in dealing with financial problems worldwide. While unemployment rises and the debate carries on within global financial institutions, problems in developing nations continue to rise and develop into massive crises as the result of increased poverty. One notable example is the conditions in Mexico. With a full scale drug war competing with deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq combined, losses from the financial crisis and the current Swine Flu taking hold in Mexico, reverse immigration may have unknown consequences as a result of millions of people not being able to cope within their home country or their new country. While unemployment rates in the US and Canada are no where near 17 percent like in some European countries, the difference in the economic structure of the systems in North America may not provide decent paying jobs which help families to survive an economic crunch for more than 8 months or so. In the end, policies to help stabilise developed and developing economies might help some people, like those returning to South America from Spain in providing some living expenses for a few months or a few years.