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Types of Migration
Internal Migration
Global Labour Mobility
Child Migration
Skilled Migration
Forced Migration
Return Migration

Key Themes
Modelling Causes
and Consequences
Links between Migrations
Rural Poverty and Livelihoods
Social Protection
Gender and Generations
Health and Education

UK / international
Albania / Eastern Europe
Ghana / Africa
Egypt / the Middle East
Bangladesh and
South Asia




Project 1d
Portability, Access and Reciprocity: Social Protection Regimes for Migrants

While social protection as an agenda primarily for reducing vulnerability and risk of low-income households with regard to basic consumption and services has become an important part of the development discourse at both national and international levels, there is little literature linking migration to social protection frameworks or policies. Social protection concerns can emerge at all stages of a migration process as different vulnerabilities characterise the ‘deciding migrant’, the ‘mobile migrant’, the ‘arrived migrant’, the 'returned migrant' and the migrant’s family that may remain at home. However, except for a few studies, this linkages has remained largely unexplained. While the need to manage risk and secure livelihoods can be the main driver of migration decisions, at the same time a derived demand for various forms of social protection, state and non-state, may arise from the migration process. Furthermore, migration itself can provide a form of social protection.

The main aim of this research is to better understand the interactions between migration (internal and international) and social protection in order to inform initiatives that can create ‘mobile’ systems of social protection, and to find ways for enabling social protection entitlements to follow the migrant rather than being linked to employment category or place of residence. Recognising migrants’ rights and aiding them in overcoming vulnerabilities associated with the migration process will have positive impacts on growth in host and source countries and will go a long way to reducing poverty.

Key Research Questions

Dot What are the effects of the absence of the migrant, for example on food security, physical security, How is access to social protection for migrants differentiated by work status and gender?
Dot How does migrant knowledge about vulnerabilities and social protection influence migration decisions and thus labour market patterns?
Dot How do we understand systems of reciprocity for social protection, especially for those migrants who are unable to access formal systems?
Dot What role can different actors (government, donor, enterprise, civil society, migrant networks) play in supporting and developing a more integrated social protection strategy for migrants?



Key Theme(s)
Social Protection


Rachel Sabates-Wheeler

Rachel Sabates-Wheeler

Key Activities

  In order to investigate the questions driving this proposal we will conduct a comprehensive programme of work focusing on Ghanaian migrants, both international and national.

Ghana is characterised by substantial international and internal migration flows. We intend to carry out our research in multiple sites in order to address the interactions between different types of flow, destination, bilateral and multilateral policies and household strategies -- looking at Ghanaian migrants in the UK, in an ECOWAS country (Nigeria) and internal Ghanain migrants (link with project 1c).

A variety of methods will be used to approach this research and different methods will be used for the different sites. Since the World Bank will be conducting case studies of formal pensions and health arrangements for migrants, we will not be spending time investigating this aspect of social protection for international migrants. Methods for research will include literature reviews, key informant interviews and surveys at each location.

Key Outputs

A concept paper
A working paper
A new dataset
A workshop
A policy briefing
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With thanks to IOM and Claudia Natali for the photographs