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Poverty, development, and migration

Migration A–Z


  1. Ninna Nyberg Sørensen

Published Online: 4 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444351071.wbeghm424

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

How to Cite

Sørensen, N. N. 2013. Poverty, development, and migration. The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 4 FEB 2013


A basic assumption in classic migration theory is that a search for better – or more secure – livelihoods is the main cause of migration (De Haan 1999; Ellis 2000). Poverty motivates individuals, families, and communities to embark on migratory projects. If successful, such movements may contribute to economic as well as human development. Yet migration and the development of economic and human capacity have been treated as two separate and distinct areas of concern, academically as well as politically. The failure to link migration and development and to study, for example, migration's poverty-alleviating effects, has been more pronounced in cases of international migration than in studies of population movements within nation-state boundaries. Over the last 10 years, however, attention to the migration–development nexus and the many links that exist between the two fields has moved to center-stage (Sørensen et al. 2002; Spaan et al. 2005; Glick Schiller & Faist 2009). This has generated a profusion of academic studies, policy analyses, international fora, and recommendations focused on to how to make migration work for poverty reduction and human development in concrete migration settings. However, the nature of the relationship between migration and development remains contested and the assumed links often entail a number of problems, if not contradictions.


  • poverty;
  • development;
  • immigration;
  • labor supply;
  • political economy;
  • capitalism