Migration is already a significant global phenomenon, and it is likely to become more so. According to a recent World Bank report, there are two hundred million international migrants. The study reports that “migration pressures” will continue “for the foreseeable future.” It will take “decades” to close income gaps between developed and developing countries; in 2015, the ratio between the average income of the high-income countries and that of the low-income countries stood at 70:1. A “well-documented demographic divergence” will add further pressure: “Population aging will produce large labor-market imbalances and fiscal pressures in high-income countries as the tax base narrows and the cost of caring for the old surges.” This increase in demand will complement an increase in supply. “If current fertility and national employment rates remain as they are in the developing world,” the Bank reports, by 2050 “nearly 900 million [will be] in search of work.” Climate change and disasters will have a more modest impact on the international level, although “increased drought and desertification, rising sea levels, repeated crop failures, and more intense and frequent storms are likely to increase internal migration.” And these numbers—measuring persons outside their home country for more than a year—do not include hundreds of millions of persons who cross international borders for shorter periods of time: tourists, students, temporary workers, business persons, asylum-seekers.
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