Center for Global Studies

Whither Global Migration in the 21st Century?

In his talk, Demetrios Papademetriou, President of the Migration and Policy Institute, portrayed the major challenges for migratory movements in an increasingly interdependent world. Global migration has not only become a bone of contention due to its economic ramifications in receiving as well as sending countries, but has also political and social implications. Since 1945, the importance of developing countries has grown, which cannot be ignored when looking at the research puzzle. Furthermore, he addressed the debate on mobility vs. migration illustrating how the international state-system and government bureaucracies set up immigration laws, which hamper increasing mobility and create boundaries instead.


Dr. Papademetriou

Such legislation only accentuates the fear of otherness, exacerbating ethnic and social conflict in host countries. While the United States has mechanisms that coped with multiculturalism in the past, these tools are not a guarantee for future conflict resolution. Policymakers have been grappling with these challenges, when addressing governance problems. Different models of integration—mostly of failure—exist. Germany, for instance, is a case of immigration discourse denial. It was not until the mid-1990s, when the public debate on immigration was sparked

and the issues put on the political agenda.


The Netherlands, on the contrary, welcomed immigrants. Nonetheless, the dutch strategy was not successful either, but resulted in a “golden isolation”. The long-term consequences of parallel societies and social enclaves are currently dealt with on the political level. Yet another model is that of benign neglect in France. In this case, republican values and civic assimilation efforts were promoted by the French government, causing institutional segregation. The recent clashes in Parisian suburbs demonstrate how this social engineering enterprise failed to bridge social cleavages in society.

These dire situations across Europe call for new government regulation and social calibration to cope with migration issues. The challenge lying ahead is to find policies that will allow for immigrants to become part of society in the host country. This is crucial, because of future immigration developments. For Dr. Papademetriou, the immigrant pipeline will remain robust for the next two decades, but the supply of skilled migrants might not keep up with this development. Moreover, deep economic recession weighs heavily on immigrant communities. How then can we change the policy landscape? According to him, smart immigrant selection policies that are embedded in the receiving countries’ economic growth and competitiveness policies are one solution. They have to be complemented by integration policies that help prepare all marginalized populations for active and fulfilling work. Integrative solutions, however, can only be found by increasing cooperation with sending countries.