What would be the long-term (25–50 years) impact on the global migration system – and, specifically, on environmental migration – if, for whatever reason, people no longer wanted to gain entry to the USA

Type

Report

Author

Newland, K.
Papademetriou, D.

Title

What would be the long-term (25–50 years) impact on the global migration system – and, specifically, on environmental migration – if, for whatever reason, people no longer wanted to gain entry to the USA

Year

2011

Publisher

Government Office for Science UK

Abstract

In the first decade of the 21st century, one in five international migrants resided in the USA (UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2009). Of highly skilled immigrants, the USA’s share was even larger, claiming 53% of all the migrants with a university education or better living in an OECD country (Docquier and Marfouk, 2004). In 2010, the USA was home to close to 40 million foreign-born individuals (this number includes a small correction for undercounts), with an estimated 28% of them not having legal authorisation to live there (Passel and Cohn, 2011). The drawing power of the USA clearly was, and continues to be, a major driver of the global migration system – but the quarter or so of the world’s migrants who went to the USA in 2000–09 is almost half the proportion that went to the USA in the previous decade. Does the drop constitute a trend or simply reflect a combination of very unusual circumstances during the 1990s and equally unusual events during the first decade of this century? The former include the family reunification opportunities of the nearly 3 million unauthorised immigrants who received legal status in the late 1980s and the remarkable economic growth in the second half of the 1990s; the latter include the bursting of the dotcom bubble and the recession that followed, the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the USA with their economic and security consequences, and the severe economic downturn in the last part of the decade. If the decline in immigration to the USA is the front end of a downward trend, and it continues to the point that many immigrants no longer seek entry to the USA, how would the global immigration system be reshaped? This paper examines that question, with particular attention to migration motivated by environmental change. We will examine the potential impact of greatly reduced immigration to the USA by exploring five possible, inter-related causes of the drop-off, and two possible outcomes of these scenarios.

Citation

Newland, K., & Papademetriou, D. (2011). What would be the long-term (25–50 years) impact on the global migration system – and, specifically, on environmental migration – if, for whatever reason, people no longer wanted to gain entry to the USA. London : Government Office for Science UK. URL : http://www.dti.gov.uk/assets/foresight/docs/migration/working-papers/11-1140-wp1-impact-on-global-migration-people-no-longer-wanted-entry-usa.pdf

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