The current global economic crisis is impacting migration patterns and processes around the world. A reduction in migration flows globally has been reported, and in particular declines in irregular migration flows have been observed in some regions. The World Bank has reported a slowdown in the rate of increase of remittances on a global level, although with important regional variations. There are regular reports from around the world of migrant workers being laid off, and while some migrant workers are apparently returning home, others are choosing to stay. How to respond to these migration impacts poses a number of challenges for policymakers in both countries of origin and destination.
Against this background, this report considers the lessons for migration policy to be learned from the five major financial crises of the 20th Century, namely the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Oil Crisis of 1973, the Asian financial crisis of 1997–99, the financial crisis in Russia at the end of 1998, and the Latin American financial crisis of 1998–2002. As the impact of previous financial crises on migrants and migration has been uneven and unequal across countries and regions, depending on a range of factors, this report draws out the wider lessons for policy that can be learned from previous responses to economic crises.
The report is divided into four main sections: (1) an overview of the five crises considered, analysing the extent to which the migration experiences and policies of earlier financial crises are directly applicable to the current context; (2) an assessment of the impact of earlier crises on migration patterns and processes for migrant workers and their families, and for origin and destination economies and societies; (3) the development of a typology for categorizing the policy responses that affected migrants and migration in the context of earlier crises; (4) lessons learned for migration policy in response to the global economic crisis.