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South-South Migration in West Africa: Addressing the Challenge of Immigrant Integration


  • Jason Gagnon


  • David Khoudour-Castéras



Although South-South migrants face much of the same discrimination and integration challenges as their South-North counterparts, South-South flows need to be analysed from a different standpoint. An investigation of immigrant experience in West Africa, with particular focus on Ghana, shows that despite the prevalence of intra-regional migration, most governments neglect integration issues, generating costs not only for immigrants and their families, but also for host communities. Against this background, the standard models of integration used in the North – assimilation and multiculturalism – are not necessarily applicable. On the one hand, borders are generally more porous and immigration controls more lax, so that assimilation models are not well adapted as many migrants do not stay long enough to adopt local customs. On the other, national linguistic, cultural and ethnic diversity tends to be higher in West Africa, so basing immigration integration on multicultural premise may have little impact. Integration policies in the South should take into account these differences and focus on the protection of migrant rights, while also fighting discrimination and fostering the incorporation of immigrants into society. Bien que les migrants Sud-Sud doivent faire face aux mêmes problèmes de discrimination et d’intégration que les migrants Sud-Nord, les flux Sud-Sud doivent être abordés sous un angle différent. Une étude approfondie de l’expérience migratoire en Afrique de l’Ouest, notamment au Ghana, montre qu’en dépit d’une prévalence des flux intra-régionaux, la plupart des gouvernements négligent la question de l’intégration, générant des coûts non seulement pour les immigrés et leurs familles, mais aussi pour les communautés d’accueil. Dans ce contexte, les modèles d’intégration – assimilation et multiculturalisme – utilisés dans le Nord ne s’appliquent pas forcément dans le Sud. D’une part, les frontières y sont généralement plus poreuses et les contrôles migratoires plus laxistes, ce qui rend les modèles d’assimilation inadaptés, la plupart des migrants ne restant pas suffisamment longtemps pour adopter les coutumes locales. D’autre part, il existe souvent une plus grande diversité linguistique, culturelle et ethnique en Afrique de l’Ouest, réduisant ainsi la portée du modèle multiculturel. Les problèmes de cohésion sociale qui en résultent sont renforcés par l’arrivée massive de réfugiés et de migrants de transit. Les politiques d’intégration dans le Sud devraient tenir compte de ces différences et se concentrer sur la protection des droits des migrants, sans pour autant oublier la lutte contre les discriminations et l’incorporation des immigrés dans la société.

Suggested Citation

  • Jason Gagnon & David Khoudour-Castéras, 2012. "South-South Migration in West Africa: Addressing the Challenge of Immigrant Integration," OECD Development Centre Working Papers 312, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:devaaa:312-en
    DOI: 10.1787/5k98p4wcgjmx-en

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    Cited by:

    1. Cooray, Arusha & Marfouk, Abdeslam & Nazir, Maliha, 2018. "Public Opinion and Immigration: Who Favors Employment Discrimination against Immigrants?," GLO Discussion Paper Series 175, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    2. Amuedo-Dorantes, Catalina & Gratereaux Hernández, Carlos & Pozo, Susan, 2017. "On the Implications of Immigration Policy Restricting Citizenship: Evidence from the Dominican Republic," IZA Discussion Papers 10602, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

    More about this item


    Afrique de l’Ouest; immigrant integration; intégration des immigrés; migrations Sud-Sud; South-South migration; West Africa;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O55 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Africa

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