GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Migration and Economic Development after the Arab Spring
Paper Proposal Text :
Migration and Economic Development after the Arab Spring

Heba Nassar -(

I- Background:
Economic Factors ( in addition to demographic factors)are the main elements affecting the migratory movement in the Region .Push and pull factors as well as the economic impact of migration on the labour market, remittances ,brain drain have been tackled in most migration studies. Recently , the Arab world has been witnessing serious political changes since late 2010. In less than two months Tunisian Revolution and the 25th of January revolution in Egypt were able to out-throw autocratic regimes that rested for more than thirty years. The Egyptian and Tunisian revolts inspired many other Arab youth in Libya, Yemen and Syria.

While the Arab spring held wide expectations and hopes for the Arab people with democratic transformations, freedom, economic reforms and social justice; the transition phase in many Arab countries introduced vast and persistent political, economic and security challenges. According to the most recent IMF estimates, economic growth in the Arab region has been around 2.6% in 2014, expected to drop to 2.3% in 2015. In addition, many Arab countries (namely Syria, Yemen and Libya) have even bloody transition experiences where the uprisings have led to protracted conflicts and massive losses in human lives, infrastructure and economic resources. Syria’s GDP has declined by 45-60 percent since the start of the conflict, while Yemen’s has dropped by nearly 30 percent in the past year. (IMF Regional Economic Outlook, October 2015). Moreover; protracted conflicts in the Region (mainly in Syria, Yemen as well as in Libya and Iraq) are having other cross-border spillover effects, including setbacks to trade and tourism, worsening security, and deteriorating investor confidence. In addition, large numbers of displaced people and refugees have been fleeing their homes, on a scale not seen since the early 1990s, heading to other Arab neighboring countries (mainly Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon) that are already passing through tight economic, social, and political pressures.

In this regard; there has been an ongoing debate on the economic impact of the Arab spring on the migration flows and trends in the Arab region given the fact that the region represents one of the main sending as well as receiving regions for both regular and irregular migratory flows.
Before the Arab Spring it was estimated that around 3.7 million Egyptians, 3 million Moroccans, 1.2 million Algerians, almost a million each Lebanese and Syrians, 750,000 Jordanians and 650,000 Tunisians live outside their countries of origin (WB 2011)
It is also evident that intra-regional migration flows are very important in the Region where nearly 6 million out of the 13 million Arab migrants in the world reside in Arab countries.
While there has not been accurate estimates of the impact of the Arab spring on the migratory flows from and to the Arab region; it is highly expected that the political, economic and social changes that have accompanied the Arab spring would produce overall effects on migration in the region: on movements of people, on the direction as well as pull and push factors of movement, and on overall policies in all migration-related matters.

The tight economic conditions in many sending Arab countries could contribute to push factors increasing the possibility of more migration flows from such countries to other Arab or foreign countries. The shaky economic and political situation in one of the major labour receiving countries in the Region like Libya have produced big trends of return migration flows to countries that are already facing significant economic pressures (Egypt, Jordan…). On the other hand; the Arab spring has triggered two major refugee crises previously in Libya and currently in Syria that have been alarming to the neighboring Arab as well as other foreign countries.

After reviewing the theoretical framework of migration and economic development the paper seeks to answer the following main questions:

• Did the political upheavals in the Arab region play any role in changing the pattern of migration flows in the Arab region compared to what existed before the Arab uprisings?
• To what extent the characteristics of the Arab migrants have changed (Numbers, the age group, and the educational background….etc) after the Arab spring compared to the period before.
• What is the effect of these changes on economic development, through remittances flows and labor markets , brain drain ..
• To what extent the Arab revolts have affected irregular migration to and from the Arab region with its economic repercussions?
• What are the policy implications of post Arab Spring repercussions on migration and economic development

The paper will follow a descriptive analytical approach with statistical analysis for the main economic variables related to migration and development in the Region over the period 2010-2015 with a comparative view to the variables in the period 2005-2009.
The economic policy perspective will be highlighted in the concluding section

• ILO, Global Employment Trends: Risk of a Jobless Recovery, Geneva, January 2014,
• IMF, Regional Economic Outlook, October 2015,
• OECD, Harnessing The Skills Of Migrants And Diasporas To Foster Development: Policy Options, Paris, 2012
• World Bank, \"Migration and Development Brief\", November 2012 accessed
• World Bank, Migration and Remittances Fact book 2011, 2nd ed., Washington,