Multidimensional Re-creation of Vulnerabilities and Potential for Resilience in International Migration



International labour migration is a multidimensional process and primarily a family mechanism intended to reduce vulnerabilities associated with underlying inequalities. However, for immigrants, the break-up of physical contact with family members is an enduring feature of vulnerability in their communication with origins (often in developing countries). On the whole, family relationships are transformed: the absence of physical contact is traded-off with remittances sent home to family members. Remittances create potential for resilience by increasing human development of children, while reducing extreme poverty at the local level. Remittance flows are also an important source of foreign exchange for countries of origin. However, labour markets’ polarization, backlash, and economic downturns at destinations (often in developed countries), and governments’ moral hazard, currency revaluation, and production inertia at origins recreate vulnerabilities and disrupt the potential build-up of resilience. In fact, the re-creation of vulnerabilities largely outweighs the generation of resilience threads. The paper develops a typology that highlights the dynamic interaction between vulnerabilities and resilience, revealing the multiple aspects of people and remittances flows, the potential for mainstreaming migration policies into economic development, and the scale of the policy task to reduce vulnerabilities associated to international labour migration.