Migration and Development: Factoring Return into the Equation

This book focuses on international migration and return of highly-skilled Ghanaians and Ivorians and presents empirical research findings that demonstrate that, under certain circumstances, return migrants can act as key development agents in their home country. It investigates the influence of a number of factors that condition their motivation to return and their capacity to stimulate change in their countries of origin. The aim of the study is the assessment of policy implications related to élite returnees’ development impact in evolving socio-economic contexts.

The comparative and multi-method research strategy adopted revealed that migrants tend to return home with considerable savings (financial capital), new knowledge, skills and ideas (human capital), as well as with valuable contacts (social capital). Besides their level of education, work profile, and particular life experience, whether these migrants have worked abroad for a significant period, proved the most critical factor influencing their acquisition of different kinds of capital. However, there seems to be an ‘optimum’ work duration abroad – approximately five years – after which the benefits deriving from human and financial capital acquisition tend to stabilise.

At the micro level, back home skilled migrants attained their goals, improving their relative income levels, expressing satisfaction with their work conditions and, more generally, enjoying a higher quality of life. At the meso level, they provided support to others in line with expectations and pressures they faced. They also introduced many kinds of new knowledge, skills and ideas in their workplace. At the macro level, return migrants promoted economic and political transformations through, among others, the creation of new businesses and various community development initiatives.

The role of return migrants is influenced by many factors linked also to their situation back home. Reintegration into their home context proved challenging, especially for women, and returning migrants need time to overcome initial hurdles and get settled before they can start to make any meaningful contribution. That is one of the reasons why there is a need to facilitate their reintegration and create a conducive environment which can also foster return migration of the highly-skilled élite. More importantly, however, evidence is produced in favour of arguments and ideas about ‘brain circulation’, a strategy that can help in maximising the positive effects stemming from migration and return.

This book is part of a series. View the full series, "Cornell Institute for African Development Series", here.

Savina Ammassari holds a doctorate in Development Studies (University of Sussex, UK) and a Laurea cum laude in Political Sciences (Sapienza Università di Roma, Italy). Building on her multidisciplinary background, she has specialised since the early 1990s in international development with a focus on policy analysis and design, monitoring and evaluation, communication and training. Before she started working on her doctorate, she had already lived for many years in Côte d’Ivoire and in Ghana, where she worked for UNICEF’s Regional Office for West and Central Africa (Côte D’Ivoire) and CARE International (Ghana) and as an independent consultant. Savina served in the roles of international public servant and of independent consultant with different international agencies including World Bank, ILO, IOM, UNDP, UNICEF, UNV, NGOs as well as with governments and private firms. She carried out short- and long-term assignments in more than 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and in Asia. She is currently a Senior Advisor with UNAIDS in Cambodia. In her assignments she has dealt with a wide range of issues including migration, health and education, rural and integrated development issues, governance and democracy. Savina received fellowship awards from the Institute of Development Studies (University of Sussex), the UK Economic and Social Research Council and the Italian Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche. Despite her engagement and interest in many critical areas of international development, Savina has continued working on migration issues and remains a field leader on return migration issues.

"Previous research on return migration has tended to come up with disappointing results - returning labour migrants, with relatively low human capital, are not agents of home-country development. This new study, by focusing on highly-skilled returnees, and based on rigorous survey and interview research in Europe and West Africa, yields more optimistic results, especially in the economic and political realms. The book provides both a model of excellent, multi-method research, and highly policy-relevant lessons."

- Professor Russell King, University of Sussex, Co-Director of the Sussex Centre for Migration Research

"This book makes a valuable contribution to the debate on ‘brain drain’, ‘brain re-gain’ and ‘brain circulation’. Empirical evidence of this kind is needed to devise concrete policy measures aimed at maximising the benefits arising from highly skilled return migration. The book is very timely in providing sound research findings and recommendations to inform migration policies and programmes at a time where the topic of migration ranks higher than ever on domestic and international development agendas."

- Dr. Piyasiri Wickramasekara, Senior Migration Specialist, International Migration Programme, International Labour Organization

"This interesting book provides a fascinating insight into the process of return of 'elite' migrants to Africa. It is based on extensive interviews in Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire, and provides a multi-faceted analysis of how and why people return, and what influences whether this works to the broader benefit of home societies. It should be recommended reading for anyone with an interest in contemporary return movements."

- Professor Richard Black, Professor of Human Geography, Director, Development Research Centre on Migration, Globalisation and Poverty University of Sussex

"Research on return migration is still lacking and thus this study fills an important gap. The study is innovative because it adopts a cross-country and multi-level analytical approach to investigate the impact of returning migrants in their country of origin. Rarely is migration policy research designed with policy-makers’ needs in mind. This research constitutes a valuable exception. Its findings are conclusive and provide ready-made answers to those wanting to devise policies and programmes aimed at facilitating return migration of the highly skilled and at enhancing their role as agents of change. "
- Dr. Frank Laczko, Head of the Research Division, International Organization for Migration (IOM)

Buy This Book

ISBN: 1-4438-1352-4

ISBN13: 978-1-4438-1352-5

Release Date: 30th September 2009

Pages: 360

Price: £44.99