Migration and Development: Lessons from Africa’s Long-Run Experience

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In this epilogue we lay out four lessons concerning the relationship between migration and development drawn from African migration history. In spite of theories stressing the positive effect of welfare development on the aspirations and capabilities of prospective (labor) migrants, we argue that the historical mobility of Africans has never been hindered by poverty and underdevelopment in sending regions. The relationship between tangible rises in living standards and overall rates of migration during the long 20th century is tentative at best. Long-term development did generate large shifts in origins and destinations, reinvigorating the global African diaspora since the 1960s. We argue that shifts in migratory destinations have been affected by various macro-historical drivers introduced in this volume, forces that typically operate in the long run. One of these forces is the profound transition in public and political perceptions of the contribution of migrants to “development” in receiving societies. Increasingly negative perceptions have curbed long-distance mobility of Africans within and out of the continent to a much greater degree than experienced by the millions of European and Asian overseas migrants during the Age of Mass Migration (1850–1940), a period in which African migration was overwhelmingly intra-continental yet more dynamic than is often recognized.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMigration in Africa
Subtitle of host publicationShifting Patterns of Mobility from the 19th to the 21st Century
EditorsM. de Haas, E. Frankema
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781003225027
ISBN (Print)9781032125299
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2022


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