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Discuss the positive and negative effects of migration in a named Caribbean country.

(25 marks)
Mustapha defines migration as the movement of population across a specified boundary for the
purpose of establishing a new residence. He further discusses that there are different types of
migration; internal and international migration. Internal migration refers to to movement within a
country while international migration refers to movement between countries. It is important to
note that international migration, which will be mostly focused within this essay, involves two
different categories of movement; immigration and emigration. Mustapha defines immigration as
the number of people coming into a particular country in a given year while emigration refers to
the number of people leaving a country in a given year. The Caribbean is familiar with such
movement as it is rooted within the regions history and has been found that over the past four
decades; more than 5 million people have migrated out of the Caribbean. Within this essay, this
movement within region will be discussed in order to determine the positive and negative effects
it has on Jamaica.
The countries within the region is not unfamiliar with the concept of migration as many decades
ago, many slaves were brought to the region to work on plantations. The slave trade that lasted
from the 18th to the 19th century caused the first major immigration waves into the region. After
emancipation, workers began moving within the region in hopes of finding employment or better
working conditions. Additionally, in the twentieth century, the movement of labour to
destinations within the region continued. The oil-boom in the 1970s attracted many migrants
from the smaller and less developed islands to work in the oil refineries in the dependencies of
the Netherlands and the United States, particularly the United States Virgin Islands, Aruba and
the Netherlands Antilles. Also the booming energy sector in Trinidad and Tobago was a magnet
for many in search of employment. This marked an increase in intra-regional migration. In
addition, the growing tourism sector demanded for a large domestic labour force that could not
be supplied by many small Caribbean islands, therefore workers from many neighbouring
countries especially Columbia and Venezuela came to fill these gaps as discussed by Dr Schmid.
This vibrant history of movement sparked by the first major immigration wave due to slavery has
resulted in a diversity of ethnicities within the region. Thomas-Hope notes Migration has
become deeply embedded in the psyche of Caribbean peoples over the past century and a half. It
has evolved as the main avenue for upward mobility through the accumulation of capital
financial and social. Thus the propensity for migration is high and there is a general
responsiveness to the opportunities for moving whenever they occur.
As previously mentioned, over the past four decades, the Caribbean region has lost more than 5
million people to migration. There are various reasons why Caribbean people may migrate to
other countries: in search of employment, higher pay, better education opportunities, etc.
Thomas-Hope notes that many of these opportunities that individuals migrate for were within the
region, however more recently are from North America and Europe. According to data based on
the United States Bureau of Census, of all the foreign nationals living in the United State, 10%
are of Caribbean origin and more than 10% of these Caribbean immigrants are of Jamaican
heritage. This contributes to the Caribbean having one of the highest net migration rates in the
world as noted by the United Nations Population Division (2003). The countries within the
region with the greatest losses due to migration are Jamaica, Guyana, St. Lucia and Suriname.
According to the Office of Caribbean Program Coordination, the reasons why many migrate to
the United States is due to its close proximity to the Caribbean, increased earning capacity,

common language for English speakers and there are favourable immigration policies for skilled
labourers. Due to these factors that make moving to the US, a very favourable one, many
Caribbean nationals have migrated to be able to reap such benefits. Therefore, it must be
discussed whether this movement has had an overall positive or negative impact within the
region, especially in Jamaica.
The most obvious benefit or positive effects of emigration are remittances and economic
investments. According to a study conducted by the IMF, the Caribbean is the Worlds largest
recipients of remittances as it accounts for 13% of the regions GDP. Thomas-Hope notes that
another important aspect of Caribbean migration would be the return of the migrants however
this not only refers to the movement of people but the movement of remittances. These
remittances can be in the form of financial capital as well as goods of various kinds and
transferred to the Caribbean through formal or informal channels. Many governments favour
when remittances are sent back in order to boost their economies and have established several
measures to ensure that the returning populations major contribution is made. In the case of
Jamaica, this meant the establishment of a Returning Residents Programme (Thomas-Hope). The
Returnees from the United Kingdom have formed such associations in which these individuals
can channel funds and materials from abroad to assist in various local social welfare projects,
which is trying to be done with Jamaica as remittances contribute more to the national economy
than revenues from foreign exports, amounting to US$2 billion annually in the last four years. In
addition a Returning Residents Facilitation Unit was created within the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs and Foreign Trade. Another positive impact of emigration through economic investments
in the form of the strengthening of health and educational facilities. Overseas based nationals,
school alumni and professionals contribute time, technical assistance and equipment to support
population and development services in their home countries. For example, teams of Jamaican
physicians periodically visit to perform operations, or donate much-needed equipment and
supplies to support the health system back home as noted by Schmid. However, these positive
impacts can be viewed as sceptical. As noted by Schmid, it is increasingly difficult to measure
these remittances and the values of non-monetary goods are often estimated. Another challenge
arises in many Caribbean individuals not owning bank accounts, therefore making it difficult for
countries to measure these financial transactions however; governments have facilitated the
transfer of monies by establishing remittance service companies such as Western-Union.
Though these positive impacts have substantially benefitted the economy in the region,
especially within Jamaica, there are some severe negative aspects of migration. The most
prevalent issue within the region results from the movement of skilled nationals out of the
region. This can be due to the fact that there are several push and pull factors contributing to this.
The region has very unfavourable conditions to skilled nationals who have completed their
tertiary education and are looking for a pay grade that is sufficient to their qualifications. The
skilled migration rates from the Caribbean are deemed as some of the highest in the world
(IADB 2006) with 60% of tertiary educated and 30% secondary educated Jamaicans migrating
out of the region. Thomas-Hope notes that Jamaica has also lost a substantial amount of
labourers within the educational sector; 50% within tertiary education and 30% in secondary
schools. The movement of skilled nationals out of a country is noted as brain drain and can be
seen as a prevalent issue within Jamaica. Schmid notes that because Caribbean governments face
an increasing problem in providing equal opportunities to their educated population, it will
mostly result in these individuals being attracted to much more viable countries. Additionally,

this inevitable continued loss of professionals deprives the region of its desperately needed
qualified staff who play a crucial role in sustainable development. This continued deprivation
threatens to paralyze any underway progress in the economic and social sectors in the region.
Though in a recent 2007 study found that 85% of migrants from Jamaica were tertiary educated
individuals however many are of the view especially Jamaicas Minister of Foreign Affairs
viewed brain drain as brain circulation as these skilled migrants have aided in the development
of their homeland.
It can be said that there are obviously both positive and negative effects of migration within
Jamaica. Migration has not only allowed for the strengthening of both the health and education
sectors within the country but has allowed for remittances contributed annually US$ 2 billion to
the countrys national economy. However, it has depleted the amount of skilled nationals that
could aid in developing the country which is considered by many as underdeveloped. Therefore,
it can be concluded in order for other countries within the region, as well as Jamaica to benefit
from migration is to implement policies in order to maximise these positive effects while
reducing the negative impacts.