Going round in circles: circular migration, poverty alleviation and marginality

Skeldon, Ronald (2012) Going round in circles: circular migration, poverty alleviation and marginality. International Migration, 50 (3). pp. 43-60. ISSN 0020-7985

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Abstract

Circular migration has come into vogue in policy circles, particularly in Europe. However, if circular migration is to be the object of policy intervention, it will have to be clearly identifiable as a particular type of population mobility. In this paper, I consider both internal and international migrations. I examine the antecedents of the idea of circulation, together with the difficulties of separating and identifying it as a migration type. I argue that the form and composition of circular migration change over time, making it difficult to design policies specific to that type of mobility. I examine the consequences of circular migration for human welfare. While circular migration extends the resource base of households and helps minimize risk and support subsistence, long-term rather than shorter-term circulatory movements may provide the more reliable pathway to improving welfare, although the available data are hardly robust. I consider the issues of free versus unfree labour and the likelihood of becoming trapped in marginal positions in destination areas in relation to defining circular migration. Circular migration may be a more useful conceptual approach in migration theory than a tool for policy prescription. Hence, I advocate a cautious approach to the role of policy intervention in circular migration in this paper, although I recognize that attempts to limit its scope will be counterproductive. Equally, attempts to regulate it within some form of institutional framework are likely to turn circular migration into a form of temporary labour migration. Nevertheless, I argue that creating an environment in which circular migration is a rational response may have a greater potential to foster development in places of origin than designing policies to manage circulatory movements directly.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Geography
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic theory. Demography > HB0848 Demography. Population. Vital events
Depositing User: Ronald Skeldon
Date Deposited: 04 Jul 2012 11:26
Last Modified: 04 Jul 2012 11:26
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/39852
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