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International economic assistance and migration: the case of Sub-Saharan countries


  • Belloc, Filippo


Development aid is commonly advocated as one of the most effective instruments to reduce international migration. Nevertheless, empirical evidence shows that push factors do not automatically result in massive migrations and that aid policies systematically fail to meet their stated objectives. Recently, several contributions have argued that an increase in sending countries’ wealth may lead to a rise in migration, rather than to a reduction, because it enables people to assume the costs and risks of migrating. However, despite the growing number of studies on this phenomenon, the role played by Official Development Assistance (ODA) has not received attention yet. This paper is aimed at providing empirical evidence on this specific issue. In particular, we investigate the relation between ODA and international migration rates of Sub-Saharan countries. We argue that ODA may have a positive effect on migration decisions for two reasons. First, ODA improves workers’ ability to cover the costs of migration, by providing new job opportunities and in turn increasing incomes in the recipient country. Second, ODA, that is often associated with development programs in education, communication services and business opportunities, may also stimulate mobility aspirations of potential migrants. We develop an econometric analysis in order to investigate this hypothesis. Specifically, we perform a three-stage least square estimation on a sample of 48 Sub-Saharan countries. We build a two-equation model, so as to allow for endogeneity of ODA, and find that ODA has a positive and statistically significant effect on migration outflows. Thus, as our main contribution, we argue that development aids are not substitute for migration and that the traditional aid policies (such as those of the European Union), aimed at curbing migration by providing international financial aids, might need to be reconsidered.

Suggested Citation

  • Belloc, Filippo, 2008. "International economic assistance and migration: the case of Sub-Saharan countries," MPRA Paper 17290, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 15 Aug 2009.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:17290

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    Cited by:

    1. Michael A. Clemens, 2014. "Does development reduce migration?," Chapters,in: International Handbook on Migration and Economic Development, chapter 6, pages 152-185 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Marina Murat, 2017. "Foreign aid and asylum immigration. Does development matter?," Center for Economic Research (RECent) 133, University of Modena and Reggio E., Dept. of Economics "Marco Biagi".
    3. Marina Murat, 2017. "Foreign aid and asylum immigration. Does development matter?," Department of Economics 0120, University of Modena and Reggio E., Faculty of Economics "Marco Biagi".
    4. Michael Clemens, 2014. "Does Development Reduce Migration? - Working Paper 359," Working Papers 359, Center for Global Development.
    5. Marina Murat, 2017. "Foreign Aid and responsiveness of bilateral refugee inflows," Department of Economics 0113, University of Modena and Reggio E., Faculty of Economics "Marco Biagi".
    6. repec:zag:zirebs:v:20:y:2017:i:1:p:101-112 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    international migration; official development assistance; Sub-Saharan countries;

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • F35 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Aid
    • O55 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Africa


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