International Migrants Day: 18th December

We have celebratory days for everything, mothers, fathers, the environment etc. With the ever increasing violence in the world, millions of people have had to leave their countries to save themselves, their families and to find a better future. International Migrants Day is celebrated this year on the 18th December 2021 . As defined by the United Nations it is grounded in values of state sovereignty, responsibility-sharing, non-discrimination, and human rights, it recognizes that a cooperative approach is needed to optimize the overall benefits of migration, while addressing its risks and challenges for individuals and communities in countries of origin, transit and destination.

Who doesn’t want a better future for themselves and their family. The prospect of a well-paid job in a wealthy country is the most powerful driver of international migration, which has intensified as income differentials among countries continues to grow.

I come from a family of migrants. My grandparents from my mother’s side migrated to Greece from Minor Asia and my grandparents from my father’s side migrated to Australia for a better future. I have personally thought about migrating to another country, many times, especially during the Greek economic crisis. Therefore, I am inclined to show empathy towards migrants as I can understand some of the reasons why someone might want or be forced to leave their homeland. We all know someone who has migrated or at least has thought of it at some point in their lives and there should be nothing wrong with doing that. People should be allowed to move elsewhere for a better future.

Looking at it on a larger scale, the truth is that many powerful economies need migrant workers to fill jobs that cannot be outsourced and that do not find local workers willing to take them at going wages. Unfortunately, migrants are generally underpaid as they tend to fill in those gaps. When retirement doesn’t start until one is 67 or 70 years of age, population aging is another factor that underlies this growing demand. Furthermore, as younger generations become better educated it is inevitable that fewer in their ranks are content with low-paid and physically demanding jobs thus aim for something better.

It is a common misconception that migration reduces wages or leads to higher unemployment among low-skilled workers in advanced economies, many of whom might themselves be migrants who arrived in earlier waves. On the contrary, research shows that most migrants actually complement the skills of domestic workers instead of competing with them. By performing tasks that either would go undone or cost more, migrants allow citizens to perform other, more productive and better-paid jobs. They also maintain viable economic activities that, in their absence, would be outsourced. By increasing the labour force and the pool of consumers and by contributing their skills, migrants can boost economic growth in receiving countries.

At the point of origin, deeper poverty does not always lead to higher migration. The poorest people generally do not have the resources to bear the costs and risks of international migration. International migrants are usually drawn from middle-income households. Mounting evidence indicates that international migration is usually positive both for countries of origin and of destination. Its potential benefits are larger than the potential gains from freer international trade, particularly for developing countries.

So before you are quick to judge, think. What would a day without migrants be like?

Watch this video.

Till next time…

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