ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Development Impacts of Migration and Urbanisation

The issues of migration and urbanisation are much debated in development literature, but often their negative consequences compared to positive impacts are highlighted. The conceptual and theoretical dimensions of the relationship between migration, urbanisation and development have been summarised, and their potential and actual impact on development has been presented.

A revised version of the background article was presented to the expert group meeting on “Sustainable Cities, Human Mobility and International Migration” organised by Population Division, United Nations, New York, 7–8 September 2017. The author is thankful to Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations for the invitation and support in writing this article.

Migration has been a historical process shaping human history, economy and culture. It reemerged as a strong force shaping cities and urbanisation since the time of the Industrial Revolution in the Western countries, and is closely associated with urban transition, influencing the demand and supply of labour, economic growth and human well-being (McKeown 2004; Skeldon 2008). However, until recently, both migration and urbanisation have not been viewed positively by researchers and policymakers. Migration was seen as a development failure, and policymakers were busy suggesting ways to reduce migration. This perspective has been changing of late.

At the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in 1994, the profound impact of urbanisation on the livelihood, way of life and values of individuals was recognised, while migration was stressed as having both positive and negative impacts on the places of origin and destination. The ICPD further stressed that orderly international migration helps the countries of origin with remittances, while benefiting the destination countries with human resources. It also argued to facilitate the return of migrants and for their reintegration into their home countries (UNFPA 2004). However, in 2000, when the international community adopted the Millennium Development Goals (MdGs), it failed to recognise the role of migration in development (Skeldon 2008). The same is largely true for urbanisation as well, except for the MDG target of achieving a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers. Conversely, the debate on the post-2015 development agenda took a new turn. Now we find that migration and urbanisation are well-recognised in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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Updated On : 7th Dec, 2018
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