Borders beyond control?

By Hein de Haas

Morocco Spain borderIn my previous blogpost, I argued that politicians are often busy feigning immigration control while in reality they frequently want to, or can, do little about it. Does that mean that borders are beyond control, as Jagdish Bhagwati famously argued in 2003? Have governments lost control? What do we actually know about the effects of immigration policies?

In order to answer this question, I have conducted a research project on the ‘Determinants of International Migration’ (DEMIG) at the International Migration Institute at ODID. This five-year project, which lasted from 2010 to 2014 and received funding from the European Research Council, allowed a team of researchers to collect new data and conduct analyses on the effectiveness of migration policies. (See this link for more information on the project, the four DEMIG databases, analyses and 28 research papers).
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Reflecting on 2014: 14 things we learned

Paul-DornanBy Paul Dornan, Young Lives Senior Policy Officer

As the year drew to an end, I decided it was time for a re-run the next instalment of our ‘who’d miss’ series … 12 things we learned in 2012  and the ‘ever popular and long-awaited’ 13 things we learned in 2013. So here are 14 things from 2014… The need for brevity means I’ve had to simplify loads of information into a few lines – so don’t take my word for it all, click the links to find out more.

#1 Children have high hopes and expectations to study for longer to get a good job and future. At the age of 12 years between three-quarters of children in Ethiopia and nine in ten in Peru wanted to go on to vocational training or university after finishing school. Such high hopes often bump up against sharp realities later on, especially for the most marginalised children. But it makes little sense to interpret the reasons for children leaving school early as a lack of understanding of the importance of a good education. Continue reading

For young refugees from Syria, education equals hope

ODID-Blog_4600390097_470fe14e35_oBy Dawn Chatty & Sarah Wahby

A young Syrian woman took centre stage in a recent Refugee Studies Centre workshop in Jordan, eloquently describing her determination to continue to study to become a doctor. Through the help of an innovative refugee training programme in Amman she was on her way.

Yet her case is not the norm; supply of education, vocational training, apprenticeship schemes and psychosocial support for young refugees from Syria is severely lacking. Local and international efforts are failing to meet the needs and educational aspirations of Syria’s young population. Continue reading

Securing commitment to the SDGs: global principles; national goals

Frances Stewart 3By Frances Stewart

Country ‘ownership’ is critical if goals are to be vigorously pursued by governments and civil society. There are many ways to interpret ‘ownership’ – at one extreme it seems to mean that goals and programmes are designed by the IMF or World Bank and then agreed by governments, who act with the understanding that funds will not be forthcoming unless they agree. At the other extreme, ‘ownership’ can be defined to occur only if the governments themselves, in collaboration with their own people, determine the goals. [1]
I believe the latter type of ownership is essential if there is to be full commitment to the achievement of the goals at the country level.

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How innovative are businesses in low-income countries?

By Xiaolan Fu and Giacomo Zanello

“I survive because I innovate” – food processing entrepreneur of an informal firm (Accra, Ghana)

The term ‘innovation’ is often associated with patents or ground-breaking discoveries. These are the results of costly, risky and lengthy processes that require intense knowledge and capital investment to create something ‘new’. Because of this, most patent registrations and ground-breaking innovations are linked with specific forms of science and research capacity, and concentrated in a small number of firms in a few rich countries.

Ghana-survey-2This view of the world might suggest that innovation is not relevant and firms are hardly innovative in low-income countries (LICs), where skills and capital constraints are prevalent. But the results of a survey we carried out, in which we collected case studies and data from more than 500 formal and informal firms in Ghana, show a very different picture.

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Fieldwork Stories: Johanna Wallin on Kolkata’s Red Light Areas

You know, didi (sister), you come here and you talk to us and we talk to you and together we just enjoy” (Interview, 28 August 2014).

India_JW_2014_3My fieldwork this summer took me to Kolkata, India, where I spent 10 weeks in three of the city’s Red Light Areas (RLAs). The focus of my research was on collective identities within the RLAs, and I wanted to explore under what circumstances one particular self-image (such as belonging to a group of ‘sex workers’) became salient.

I thus started off asking the questions: ‘To what extent does the use of social categories affect trust and cooperation in Kolkata’s RLAs?’, ‘What are the necessary and sufficient conditions for some collection of individuals to feel themselves to be in a group and act accordingly?’ and, ‘Does a socially complex reality (stratified, socially heterogeneous, mobile) hinder group formation?’. But while the first year at ODID was spent thinking and developing (re-thinking, re-developing..) these ideas and plans for the field, I think it’s impossible to fully imagine the experience that fieldwork is – I surely didn’t. Continue reading

Feigning immigration control

dehaasBy Hein de Haas

The current attempts by UK politicians to outbid each other in being ‘tough’ on immigration reminds me of the comment by the well-known migration researcher Douglas Massey and his co-authors that politicians increasingly have turned to symbolic measures to create “an appearance of control”*.

The reality is that most immigration to the UK is basically uncontrollable since the majority of immigrants coming to the UK are EU citizens or family members of residence permit holders. Little can be done about this, and this is also why David Cameron’s earlier pledge to bring annual net immigration down under the 100,000 threshold has proven to be unrealistic. The only hope of that happening is a major economic crisis in the UK, since the main driver of much immigration is labour demand. And this also shows the fundamental dilemma politicians face: wealthy countries and fast growing economies inevitably attract substantial number of immigrants, although this is anything but an invasion suggested by politicians and the media. Continue reading

Closed eyes, closed borders: EU policy and refugees from Syria

syria-blogBy Cynthia Orchard

There are now nearly 3 million registered refugees from Syria. About 96 per cent of them live in five countries neighbouring Syria – Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt. Many refugees in those countries live in appalling conditions, without adequate food, water, shelter, healthcare, or other basic necessities of life, and many also face abuse of various types. Some groups, such as Palestinians, face particularly dire circumstances, including being prohibited from entering some countries in the region.

Despite the conditions in these receiving countries, it is laudable that they have opened their borders to many more Syrian refugees than have entered European or other countries. To put this in perspective, each of the neighbouring countries individually hosts more refugees from Syria than all of Europe combined, and refugees from Syria now constitute nearly a quarter of the population of Lebanon.

Only about 4 per cent (123,000) of the refugees from Syria have entered Europe. Most of them had to enter without permission, many risking their lives to do so, because there are very few places offered for legal entry. By mid-2014, European countries, apart from Germany, had agreed to admit only about 6,000 refugees from Syria through resettlement and humanitarian admission programmes. Continue reading

OPHI summer school 2014: a rich partnership

OPHI summer schoolBy Sabina Alkire

Saturday the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) closed our ninth two-week intensive summer school on multidimensional poverty. OPHI have run one summer school every summer since 2008 – in India, Peru, Netherlands, Jordan, Indonesia, USA, Chile, Nicaragua, and now Oxford, UK. Some 64 participants completed the course, coming from 34 countries, and 31 participants were women.  Eleven more from OPHI (7 women) led the teaching and exercises. Continue reading

Human migration: myths, hysteria and facts

Hein de HaasBy Hein de Haas

Migration is a hotly debated but poorly understood issue. Much conventional thinking about migration is based on myths rather than facts. Migration policies often fail because they are based on those same myths. It is therefore time that we learn to see migration as an intrinsic and therefore inevitable part of the broader processes of societal change and globalisation instead of a ‘problem to be solved’. Continue reading