Case Study

Economic migration and globalisation

It is often said that economic globalisation, reflecting an increasingly interdependent global economy, where borders between countries are much less important than they used to be, undermines all states’ capacities to pursue successfully independent macroeconomic and development strategies and policies.

Economic globalisation has both broadened and deepened since the 1980s, a phase of world history characterised by: the end of European colonial rule, diminution of the USA’s hitherto dominant economic position, the close of the Cold War and significant and sustained growth in the internationalisation of productive capital and of finance. Together, these four developments have led to powerful, still continuing, global changes – whereby even the most powerful industrialised states, such as the USA and Japan, have seen declining options in relation to economic policy, including welfare procedures. Today, all states – rich and poor, weak and strong – are exposed to networks of economic forces and relations that range both in and through them. A consequence is to reduce – sometimes fundamentally – their ability to pursue autonomous, national economic and developmental policies, including in relation to migration, as we shall below.

In short, states’ monetary and fiscal policies must now take cognisance of the influence of globally orientated economic actors, including those millions of people which at any one time are proactively seeking to migrate from one territory to another. This economic context provides an important component of the ‘pull’ factor, encouraging people from less economically favoured parts of the globe to try to reach Europe or the USA in order to try to improve their life chances.