By 2050, sub-Saharan Africa will have 800 million new work force participants. This population boom will be full of young, energetic job seekers, and local markets will not be able to absorb and provide meaningful livelihood opportunities for all of them. the notion that development assistance to Africa will reduce migration from the South makes for an appealing argument, the research shows that it is highly unlikely. As communities become less poor, more people gain the abilities and wherewithal to undertake an expensive journey to a better life elsewhere, at least initially. Even if African average per capita incomes were to double in each of the next three decades, by 2050 the income gap with Europe will still be large enough to make migration a promising alternative for many.
In contrast by 2050, more than 34 percent of Europe’s population is expected to be age 60 or older. In Europe with continue aging, with labor demand exceeding supply in critical sectors such as nursing and healthcare, migration can have immense mutual benefits. Over the next three decades, it is highly likely that tens of millions of new workers will come to Europe to run factories, provide healthcare and education, and deliver the services that make modern economies functional and comfortable for their residents. The policy choice for Europe is not whether there will be large scale migration, but how to manage it in a way that is economically and socially sustainable. Host country policies governing migrants’ access to labor markets and their ease of integration into local communities will determine how quickly positive migration impacts can be realised. When governments fail to step up help for schools and health facilities strained by additional demands, it only aggravates tensions and resentment that can spill over in ugly ways. Benefits need to flow quickly and visibly to the local communities most directly impacted by migration.
We fall into the trap of referring to migration as a “problem” rather than acknowledging it as a potential opportunity. Migration offers huge improvements in human welfare, with significant contributions to host communities, migrants’ home communities, and migrants and their families.