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International Division of Labour and Migration as a Global Labour Supply---A Theoretical Perspective to Study International Migration---

Listed author(s):
  • Masaki Takenouchi

    (Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo)

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    Why did not mass migration from the Third World to the highly-developed countries occur before the Second World War? This is a simple but important question, since the preponderance of the migration from the "South" to the "North" is a main characteristic of the contemporary international migration. The orthodox explanations of migration based on the concept of the national economy as a unit of analysis do not give us clues to answer this question. Neither do these by the world-system approach. In this paper, we provide an alternative theoretical perspective to answer it. The key concept is the Job/Labour/Reward Hierarchy on a World Scale which means that the division of labour in the capitalist world-economy is organized by the single hierarchical collectivity of jobs. The social distance between jobs arranged in it is different. When a job falls vacant (or is created newly), candidates who are suitable for it will be limited to the workers in socially adjacent ones. On the one hand, it shows a limit of capital by disturbing accumulation. On the other hand, however, capital has an ability to recruit the eligible worker from geographically distant areas in the world-economy. Migration is the spatial movement of labour developed by capital accumulation to annihilate the social distance between jobs. This hierarchy has always changed structurally. In the nineteenth century, the social distance between jobs which workers in the Third World took and unskilled factory jobs in the highly-developed countries was long. After the Second World War, however, the distance between them diminished enough to cause mass migration from the former to the latter. Especially since the 1970s, this tendency has been accelerated by internationalization of capital.

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    Paper provided by CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo in its series CIRJE F-Series with number CIRJE-F-110.

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    Length: 36 pages
    Date of creation: Mar 2001
    Handle: RePEc:tky:fseres:2001cf110
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