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Migration and Development

Migration is surging around the world—some 250 million people currently reside outside of their country of birth—and governments are struggling to adapt. Although much scholarship and policymaking addresses migration from developing countries to advanced economies, a large proportion of the world’s migrants move within the developing world.

Take sub-Saharan Africa, approximately 70 percent of migrants originate from another developing country. Just as the free movement of goods and services yields economic growth, the free movement of labor across boundaries has the potential to benefit migrants, their families, and the communities that host them. Yet, there are challenges in realizing this potential. For instance, the movement of people can generate political and social tension. Moreover, aspiring migrants are constrained by lack of information, scarce resources, and restrictions on their access to a host country’s labor market. Finally, there are over 28 million refugees and asylum-seekers who are not leaving their countries by choice. They have fled violence or persecution and face steep hurdles to rebuilding their lives as they wait to return home, be permanently resettled, or search elsewhere for opportunity and safety.

At a time of rancorous policy debates on immigration around the world, academic researchers are well positioned to contribute new insights and evidence that can help unlock the development potential of migration for some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable populations. The Immigration Policy Lab's (IPL) highly successful translational approach to public policy will be applied to migration within the developing world, focused on unearthing its potential to spur political, economic, and social growth.

For more information on the Migration and Development initiative, please contact Jessica Leino at