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Xenophobia, International Migration and Human Development


  • Jonathan Crush

    () (Southern African Migration Project (SAMP) and Southern African Research Centre (Queen’s University))

  • Sujata Ramachandran

    (Southern African Migration Project (SAMP))


In the continuing discussion on migration and development, the vulnerability of all migrant groups to exploitation and mistreatment in host countries has been highlighted along with an emphasis on protecting their rights. However, xenophobia has not yet received explicit attention although anti-migrant sentiments and practices are clearly on the rise even in receiving countries in developing regions. Despite gaps in existing empirical work, research and anecdotal evidence exposes pervasive forms of discrimination, hostility, and violence experienced by migrant communities, with the latter becoming easy scapegoats for various social problems in host countries. This study attempts to insert xenophobia in this debate on migration and development by examining the growth of this phenomenon in host countries in the South. It provides short accounts of xenophobia witnessed in recent times in five countries including South Africa, India, Malaysia, Libya, and Thailand. The ambiguity surrounding the concept is discussed and crucial features that define xenophobia are outlined. A variety of methods to study it are likewise identified. Using a wide range of examples from diverse contexts, the paper explores possible reasons for the intensification of xenophobia. The final sections of the paper briefly outline the developmental consequences of rampant xenophobia for migrant and host populations while examining policy options to tackle it.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan Crush & Sujata Ramachandran, 2009. "Xenophobia, International Migration and Human Development," Human Development Research Papers (2009 to present) HDRP-2009-47, Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), revised Sep 2009.
  • Handle: RePEc:hdr:papers:hdrp-2009-47

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Rosenzweig, Mark R., 1988. "Labor markets in low-income countries," Handbook of Development Economics,in: Hollis Chenery & T.N. Srinivasan (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 15, pages 713-762 Elsevier.
    2. Martin Bell & Salut Muhidin, 2009. "Cross-National Comparisons of Internal Migration," Human Development Research Papers (2009 to present) HDRP-2009-30, Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), revised Jul 2009.
    3. Jennifer Hunt, 2004. "Are migrants more skilled than non-migrants? Repeat, return, and same-employer migrants," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 37(4), pages 830-849, November.
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    6. Grogger, Jeffrey & Hanson, Gordon H., 2011. "Income maximization and the selection and sorting of international migrants," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(1), pages 42-57, May.
    7. Edward Miguel & Michael Kremer, 2004. "Worms: Identifying Impacts on Education and Health in the Presence of Treatment Externalities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(1), pages 159-217, January.
    8. Hoddinott, John, 1994. "A Model of Migration and Remittances Applied to Western Kenya," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 46(3), pages 459-476, July.
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    More about this item


    Xenophobia; anti-immigrant prejudice; violence; intolerance; social exclusion; discrimination; migrant vulnerability; policy; South Africa; India; Libya; Thailand; Malaysia;

    JEL classification:

    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • Z1 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics
    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration

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