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Migration to rich countries slows down sharply - report

08 October 10 01:48
A migrant worker from Mexico harvests courgettes at a US farm
By Mark Doyle
BBC International Development Correspondent

Migration from poorer to richer countries has slowed down sharply as a result of the international recession, a report commissioned by the BBC says.

The study says migrants tend to be among the hardest-hit communities in an economic downturn.

But it adds that the hundreds of billions of dollars they send home to their families every year remains relatively steady.

Migration to richer countries has been on the increase for the last 30 years.

The percentage of immigrants in rich country populations doubled from 5% to 10% between 1980 and 2010, according to the United Nations.

But the new report for the BBC by the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute says the global recession has hit the immigrants hard, and this rapid growth in foreign-born communities has now virtually stopped.

This is partly because immigrants tend to have less skilled jobs in economic sectors like construction, which shrink quickly at times of economic strain.

In some countries the reduction in immigrant arrivals has been dramatic: inflows to Spain dropped by two-thirds in 2009, for example, and Ireland and Greece may be on the point of changing from being net importers of labour - during recent decades - into their more traditional role as countries which people leave to find work.

But if the recession, and tighter immigration controls, have reduced migration from the developing countries to the richer world, the worldwide sums of money the migrants send home has not fallen so fast.

When you're sending cash back to your children or your mother, it seems - recession or no recession - you find a way.

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