International Migration Policies: 1950-2000



Policies on international migration since the Second World War reflect the enormous changes in economic, social and political situations around the world.

The implications of changes in the volume and composition of international migration have increasingly become an issue of major concern to governments in all countries.

Following emigration from Europe to countries of the New World as a result of war-damaged economies, reconstruction witnessed high demand for migrant labour, mainly from parts of southern Europe. But by the early 1970s, decline in economic growth, unexpected impacts of the guest-worker scheme, and an increase in refugees from Third World countries led, in due course, to an era of restriction on entry of asylum-seekers and tighter controls over undocumented migration to developed countries.

A “new era” evolved during the 1990s, characterized by growing interdependence of major economic powers. Globalization led not only to a significant demand for highly-skilled and professional workers, but also to decision-making on some aspects of the migration process being transferred from the national to the regional level, and an increase in the influence of multinational corporations.

The globalization process, and the growing influence of international trade regimes, may well represent the first steps towards a new “international migration regime” that incorporates all types of migration.