International migration has become a structural element of societies and economies in Asia and the Pacific. In 2005, the region was home to over 30 per cent of the world’s estimated 191 million international migrants. Remittances sent in 2007 to countries in the ESCAP region exceeded $121 billion, improving the quality of life of millions of poor households and sustaining national economies, financing balance of payments and increasing foreign exchange receipts. However, although the benefits of international migration are apparent, its costs remain an area of great concern. Furthermore, as much of the migration debate centres around economic dimensions, the social dimensions of the phenomena have received marginal attention. Therefore, the focus of the present article is to explore the social implications of international migration and to provide an overview of the debate surrounding this issue.
The paper focuses particularly on trends and issues that have raised concerns, namely:
(a) the increasing scale of female migration and its consequences in terms of the protection of women migrants and the impacts on the families left behind;
(b) the migration of highly skilled and professional migrants, with a focus on the migration of health workers;
(c) links between migration and health; and
(d) the protection of migrants’ rights.
These trends represent significant challenges and require the attention of policymakers. It is hoped that the article will help bring much-needed attention to this emerging facet of the global phenomenon of international migration.
Published on: 1 January 2008
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