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International Migration Reduces Poverty, but at a Price

I'm Steve Emberwith the VOA Special English Development Report.

A new World Bank study says international migration helps reduce poverty in developing nations. At the same time, however, many countries that are small and poor lose highly skilled workers.

Migrants are people who move from place to place in search of work. The study shows that families with migrant workers in other countries have higher earnings than those without migrants.

Economists at the World Bank studied the effects of the money that migrant workers send to their families back home. Economist Maurice Schiff says the findings show that remittances reduce poverty and increase spending on education, health and investment.

The findings are based on information from families in three countries: Guatemala, Mexico and the Philippines. Mister Schiff says further studies are being done in other countries.

The World Bank estimates that two hundred million people are migrants living outside their native country. It also estimates that about two hundred twenty-five thousand million dollars will be paid in remittances this year. In many countries, remittances supply more foreign exchange than anything else.

The study also found that migrant workers are more likely to move to a rich nation near their home country. Most migrants in Europe come from Africa and the Middle East. In the United States, migrant workers are generally from Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.

But international migration also means the problem of "brain drain." Many of the skilled workers needed to bring their countries out of poverty move to wealthier ones instead.

The study examined research from member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The economists found, for example, that eight out of ten Haitians and Jamaicans with college educations live outside their countries. In southern Africa, skilled workers are just four percent of the workforce. Yet they are forty percent of the migrants from the area.

The World Bank study says developing countries should try harder to get skilled workers to stay. It also suggests cooperation between sending and receiving nations.

The study is called “International Migration, Remittances and the Brain Drain."

This VOA Special English Development Report was written by Jill Moss. Our reports are on the Web at I'm Steve Ember.