International Migration


This week’s readings discuss international migration, the various contributors to international migration, and the impact of international migration on populations. The readings look at the economic theories of international migration along with more specifically at the relationship between Hispanic fertility and international migration. International migration has similar outcomes when compared to internal migration but with a larger impact on populations throughout the world (imports, exports, land usage, food demand/production). There are also a variety of motivations that compel an individual to migrate from their country of origin to an unfamiliar country.
International migration is conceptualized and defined different depending on the country that is being discussed. This leads to difficulties in finding solutions and creating policies that will have a positive impact on international migrants and countries. As a result, it is important for there to be collective conversations in various countries regarding possible shifts in their views of international migration. Brown and Bean (2005) mention countries such as Germany that have increased in the size of both legal and illegal migrants and how imperative it is to be aware of the shift in their population. The very idea of willful ignorance of a huge segment of a population does not benefit the country of migration or the migrant. It is akin to racism on a larger scale. Even though it has been accepted and considered standard practice in so many countries for so long does not mean that it has to continue. When looking at the impact of international migration, the greatest increases that Brown and Bean (2005) were in developed countries. As a result, these increases can serve to put a strain on the resources that those countries have and the countries may have a more difficult time continuing to evolve through the demographic transition. This impacts both the countries at large and the migrants. Without sufficient resources and programs in place, these countries will have more challenges accepting migrants. Because international migration affects all populations around the world(except for North Korea), countries need to work together in order to implement new strategies that will help to ease the burden on countries that receive a higher influx of migrants and also help to alleviate the strain of illegal migration.
When we look at international migration, economics and economic theories are central to the discussion. Brown and Bean (2005) and Massey et al. (1998) describe the two major economic theories related to international migration which includes neoclassical economic theory that views migration as the concept of supply and demand with migrants moving from one country to another due to the demand and new economic theories that have a short term view of migration (with the idea of migrants returned their earning back to their country of origin). Looking at international migration from a neoclassical view is a more conservative view of the process of migration and does not take into account the individual migrant or the conditions that seem to push or force a person to leave all that they know in order to live and provide for their families that they may or may not see for vast periods of time. Looking at international migration from a new economic theory view provides more information related to the human experience and seeks to bridge gaps between the cause of the individual to migrate and the conditions that serve as the reason for the need of migration. The reality of international migration today is evidence that it cannot be locked into one theory or that individuals who find themselves migrating can be labelled the same. Each person has their own motivation and the blend of economic theories to help describe their current reality may help to develop a clearer definition of what international migration is and what it means across populations.
Many of the readings discuss immigration to the United States and the impact of immigration on the United States. Garip (2012) discusses migration from Mexico to the United States as a result of Bracero Program which was included in United States immigration policy from 1942 to 1964(Cornelius 1978). When this policy ended as a result of changes in the Immigration and Nationality Act, (which resulted in a limit on the number of visas to be allocated), there developed an increase in the number of undocumented migrants to the United States. The end result of the effectiveness of these policies are being felt even today in both countries respectively.
Donato and Duncan (2011) along with Parrado (2011) highlight the impact of immigration to the United States on Mexican and Hispanic families. Immigration is found to impact the fertility of Hispanic and Mexican women and also their children. Donato and Duncan (2011)’s findings highlight the importance of familial and social ties for childhood health. As a result, the health outcomes were more significant for children who had migrated to the United States for a time but later returned home to Mexico. This idea made me wonder if one of the reasons for more illegal migration by Mexican and Hispanic households with children in the United States even at the risk of the known penalties for being illegal in the United States were willing to take such risks for the betterment of their children’s health. Parrado (2011) finds that Hispanic and Mexican fertility in women has a tendency to be exaggerated and only seems high compared to the fertility in United States born Hispanic and Mexican women due to lower rates of fertility in Non-Hispanic women in general.
The readings highlight some of the areas of change regarding international migration that need to occur from the views of countries regarding immigrant populations, the way researchers measure international migration(having more standardized measures), and to how statistics are calculated and interpreted. When the conversation is framed as to how we can make these systems more effective, then international migration will not have to be an idea that is ignored but a reality that is embraced and cherished by all who benefit from how populations are redefined and repurposed.

Discussion Questions:
1. What are some strategies that can be used to effectively impact international migration that are also effective in migration in the United States?
2. Do the advantages of international migration outweigh the perceived disadvantages for the destination country?
3. What efforts can be made to view international migration as a positive aspect of a multicultural global community view?


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