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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 8a
Quantifying Temporary Mobility and the Effects of Mode 4 Liberalisation

As mobility costs decrease and concern about permanent migration increases we are likely to see much greater policy interest in the temporary movement of labour. Indeed, there is already a good deal of movement under existing temporary worker schemes and talks in the WTO already encompass the liberalisation of the temporary movement of workers and entrepreneurs in service industries. The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) makes provision under Mode 4 for member countries to commit that their policies on the temporary inward mobility of service sector workers will be no less liberal than some limit which they define (bind in WTO-parlance). This has been relatively little used to date but will become increasingly important in the WTO’s Doha Development Agenda and subsequently as analysts begin to think of temporary movement as an alternative to the more politically sensitive permanent or quasi-permanent migration.

Winters et al (2002) and Walmsley and Winters (2003) have estimated the possible economic benefits of relaxing restrictions on temporary mobility. Their results have attracted huge amounts of interest among policy-makers but were made on the basis of rather weak data about current levels of such mobility. For example, current data contain estimates of each of 211 countries’ total stocks of temporary workers abroad and temporary migrants at home, but no information on bilateral links. This project will therefore compile and analyse new data on the bilateral movement of labour, seeking to complete as many of the individual cells of a 211 x 211 bilateral links matrix as possible. Following this the table will undergo an entropy type procedure in order to obtain a complete matrix of temporary labour stocks by home and host, consistent with the ILO totals. This will allow alteration of the existing model to make better estimates of the effects of mobility, especially on productivity gains, the flow of remittances, the welfare of temporary migrants and of host and home countries.

Key Research Questions

To quantify the extent of temporary mobility between as many pairs of countries as possible.
To quantify the possible economic gains from the liberalisation of temporary mobility under GATS and bilaterally.



Key theme(s)
Modelling Causes and Consequences

Type(s) of Migration
Global Labour Mobility

UK and International


Richard Black

L. Alan Winters (Sussex)
Christopher Parsons (Sussex)
Terrie Walmsley (Purdue)

Key Activities


Compilation of bilateral data on temporary mobility.

2. Analysis and re-estimation of gains (or losses) from relaxation of rules on temporary mobility.

Key Outputs

At least one research paper for a high quality journal
Policy presentation
Articles for the international media
Global Migrant Origin Database


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With thanks to IOM and Claudia Natali for the photographs