1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Gender Equality: Striving for Justice in an Unequal World (Chinese edition)


From Chapter 7 – Cross-border migration of workers

The discussion of rural and urban livelihoods in the previous two chapters indicates that movement—whether seasonal, circular, temporary or permanent—is integral to people’s livelihoods in many parts of the developing world. For many of those with deteriorating incomes, migration offers the promise of survival or of a better life for themselves and their families. This can involve seasonal migration; it can also involve longer-term or even permanent stays in towns or cities in the hope of finding better-paid work than is available in rural areas. Yet another scenario involves crossing international borders in the search for earning opportunities.

It is often assumed that international migration almost invariably involves the movement of people from poor to more affluent countries. However, the reality is more complex; today’s migrant workforce comprises workers with a variety of skills moving to an increasing variety of destinations. Considerable migration takes place between industrialized countries. This diversity of worker migration has led to the emergence around the world of complex systems of workforce stratification according to ethnic origin, migration status and gender. Given the increasing income gaps between countries in different regions over the past couple of decades, it is reasonable to assume that there has been a surge in both short-range and long-range movements.

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