Prospective African migrants who keep their jobs during the pandemic could choose to stay at home rather than go abroad

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Potential migrants in West Africa who have managed to keep their jobs during the pandemic have a greater desire to stay in their country of origin, even if they see their economic prospects as a result of COVID-19 as better. abroad, a new study reveals.

Young people in The Gambia perceive large inequalities between their country’s performance and the speed of recovery abroad, but their perception of rich countries’ post-pandemic performance does not have significant effects on their aspirations to migrate.

Researchers from the Universities of Birmingham, Essex and Royal Holloway conducted an original survey in The Gambia as part of the MIGCHOICE project, funded by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

Experts have found that young would-be migrants who have kept their jobs during the pandemic may seek solace in familiar settings, even if perceptions of the prospects for recovery in their home countries seem worse than alternatives abroad.

Co-author David Hudson, Professor of Politics and Development at the University of Birmingham, said: “For much of Africa’s youth, the pandemic has fueled an unfortunate cycle of precarious employment and unemployment – in Africa Sub-Saharan Africa, some 50% of young people were unemployed before COVID-19 hit.

“People who keep their jobs during the pandemic are less likely to want to move abroad. Potential migrants who have managed to maintain a stable income may seek comfort in familiar settings, even if they seem worse than the alternatives abroad”.

The researchers also find that the insecurity of job loss due to COVID-19 can be offset by confidence in the ability of the Gambian government to fight the pandemic. The recently unemployed are all the less willing to migrate if they trust their government. On the whole, confidence in one’s local and personal situation seems more important than the attractiveness of richer countries, even in the presence of clearly perceived global inequalities.

Lead author Miranda Simon, a senior lecturer at the University of Essex, said: “COVID-19 has forced citizens to rely on their government. Our results show how important it is for governments and donors to try to protect jobs in times of crisis. unique stabilizing effect, which goes beyond the safety net that savings could provide.”

The researchers tested their expectations with an original survey of aspiring entrepreneurs in The Gambia with an above-average pre-pandemic employment rate. In many ways, The Gambia is representative of African emigration. However, in some respects this is a unique case – there is some evidence, for example that Gambian migrants are proportionally better educated.

Nevertheless, it is an important case to study. Due to its reliance on international tourism, The Gambia’s economy has experienced some of the greatest disruptions in the region as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is also one of the main sending countries of migrants from the region via the dangerous central Mediterranean route to Europe.

Co-author Cassilde Schwartz, Senior Lecturer at Royal Holloway, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated international inequalities to unprecedented levels, as some states had more resources than others to protect their economies and their citizens.

“We show that this widening gap will not necessarily lead people down precarious and dangerous migration routes. and stability at home.”

Professor David Hudson added: “The setbacks of COVID-19 in the developing world make it even more necessary for wealthy states to provide opportunities for legal migration, in addition to helping individuals regain stability in the country where they were born. Moreover, this assistance should not be limited to those who are most likely to migrate; it should go to all who need it. »

Young West Africans hold the key for policymakers to unlock the region’s potential

More information:
Miranda Simon et al, Covid-19 migration insecurities and aspirations, International interactions (2022). DOI: 10.1080/03050629.2022.1991919

Provided by University of Birmingham

Quote: Potential migrants from Africa who keep their jobs during the pandemic can choose to stay at home rather than go abroad (2022, February 16) Retrieved on February 16, 2022 from 2022-02-africa-would-be-migrants-jobs-pandemic.html

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