Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Migration and development - Lessons from the Mexico-US and Morocco-EU experiences

By Hein de Haas & Simona Vezzoli


This paper aims to improve the understanding of migration-development links by comparing the evaluation of Mexico-US and Morocco-EU migration over the twentieth century. Despite significant differences, Mexico and Morocco share a common geopolitical location on the global South-North migration frontier as well as their position as prime source countries of predominantly low-skilled migrants into the US and EU. The analysis highlights the large extent to which Mexican and Moroccan migration is determined by political-economic transformations in the US and EU. Persistent economic gaps and migrant networks partly explain why, instead of decreasing migration, the recruitment freezes in Mexico (1964) and Morocco (1973) have contributed to increased reliance on family and irregular migration and a diversification of migration origins and destinations. Simultaneously, policy-driven changes in labour market structure caused an increased demand for casual and informal labour in the service sector, agriculture and construction. In light of this evidence, it would be naïve to expect the 2008 financial crisis to cause a fundamental shift in migration trends because political-economic conditions fuelling migration have remained unaltered. Similarly, in spite of the considerable contributions of Mexican and Moroccan remittances to the improvement of income and living standards in origin areas, it is unrealistic to assume that migration and remittances alone can overcome generically unfavourable development conditions. Therefore, improving general development conditions through structural political and economic reform seem the most viable policy to increase the development potential of migration. If such reform does occur, Morocco and, particularly, Mexico may transform into immigration countries in the medium to long term.

Download full paper (pdf file)

See all IMI working papers

Similar stories

Working Paper: Immigration policy effects – A conceptual framework

Liv Bjerre provides a conceptual framework for the analysis of immigration policy effects by arguing that immigration policies have varying effects on different categories of immigrants whether they are regular immigrants, asylum seekers or irregular immigrants

Return Migration in Africa

IMI Researcher, Dr. Marie-Laurence Flahaux together with Dr. Bruno Shoumaker and Dr. Thierry Eggerickx edit a new issue of 'Space, Populations, Societies' which seeks to explore the understudied aspects of return migration in Africa

Working Paper: Hopes and fears of migrants’ contribution to political change, a Tunisian case study

Marieke van Houte explores complexities of political change in relation to mobility and immobility through a fascinating Tunisian case study that challenges conventional notions that transnational political engagements contribute to democratization

Exploring domestic & diasporic non-government responses to the Liberian Ebola Crisis

New article published in the academic journal, African Affairs by IMI Senior Research Officer Robtel Neajai Pailey

Legal invisibility was the best thing to happen to me

Senior Research Officer Robtel Neajai Pailey shares her experience of living as an undocumented migrant in the US for 14 years in a remarkable piece for Al Jazeera

Call for papers for new journal Migration and Society

The first issue of the journal focuses on Hospitality and hostility towards migrants: Global perspectives