What’s it about Migration

One of my goals this Summer is to come up with a topic for my master’s thesis, which will be due at the end of next year.  The broad subject is migration, and I am going to write macro theory.  I currently have a few half-baked ideas, but nothing specific enough yet:

1.  I think migration networks are really important for deciding who migrates and who doesn’t.  When I was in Turkey, it seemed like all the Chinese I knew there were from the same city and China, and all came through connections with family or acquaintances.  There is some literature about this, but not as much as might be justified.  The problem is I can’t think of anything very original to say about it.

2. While migration networks are important for the expansion of migration once it starts, they can’t explain why migration starts in the first place.  In other words, why do some countries have large out-migration while others don’t?  I read an article about Singaporean guest workers just now, and it mentioned Malays, Bangladeshis, Indonesians, and Filipinos.  What about Thais or Vietnamese?  Filipinos, for instance, are famous for migration all over the world.  Why aren’t Afghan’s?  I don’t know the answer to this question, but it might be a good research direction.   There is a parallel to the very well researched question of why countries with similar beginnings have divergent grow paths (like Italy and Germany, say, or South Africa and Zimbabwe).

3. I am also considering writing something about guest worker programs.  This is an important topic for the United States, Japan and the European Union at the moment, but once again, I currently don’t have anything terribly original to add.

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3 Responses to “What’s it about Migration”

  1. p Says:

    In terms of Filipinos you might want to consider beyond their national identity. By that I mean, perhaps Filipinos of Chinese descent might be more likely to move (maybe because they have more connections in other countries).
    In the case of Afghans, there are plenty of them mixed into communities in bordering countries. From the border to inland, Pakistan offers shelter. Or for e.g. Ethnic Afghans (the Hazara minority) may find it easier to go to Uzbekistan or Iran (bc they are Shia) etc.
    These may come as obvious and not necessarily academic arguments and they could be dangerous because you have to fish out some racial, religious or language related affiliation as a basis for choice of host country…

    I’d read a LeMonde article about increasing number of young Swiss out of college looking for jobs in France. That was strange, considering Switzerland is a prosperous and extremely open-minded country. Perhaps the German speaking financial and cultural centers Bern and Zurich do not offer the same opportunities to the French speaking Southerners in Geneva(?) …

  2. p Says:

    I know I know…all of the above were cultural arguments. But the thing is :
    -We KNOW that immigrants are moving for opportunities: economic and educational/health-related (still tied into economic needs)

    What I mean is you still can’t do away with the cultural argument because their choice of a host country might have to do with it (assuming that there are no relatives and that -if they are legal migrants obtaining a visa is as easy in all countries they considered. If they are illegal it gets a bit more complicated I assume. I assume that they would have to chose the closest best option country first: e.g. Turkey for Iraqis and then moving onto some European country etc)

  3. veryshuai Says:

    You can make the cultural case for Filipinos in Taiwan (although the ones that I see in Taipei aren’t ethnically Chinese) or the United States (former colony), but what about the Filipinos in Saudi Arabia?

    That is all beside the point, anyway. Colonial and linguistic ties certainly do matter for the choice of ultimate destination, but not every country that has cultural/linguistic links with another country has high migration there. The question is why do some countries send many citizens abroad while other similar countries don’t. To put it another way, why does migration begin in some places and not in others?

    For example, there is a large, well-known Indian diaspora abroad. Why isn’t there a large Egyptian diaspora?

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