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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 / South Asia




Global Labour Mobility

Global Labour MobilityOne of the consequences of globalisation has been a shift in the global demand for labour. In recent years, many richer economies have suffered declining rates of fertility and shifts in types of industry, creating new work opportunities. At the same time, development and democratisation in poorer economies have created a labour force more eager, and able, to migrate to take advantage of these opportunities. The result has been a significant expansion of global mobility.

Governments in both origin and destination economies are devising policies, independently, bilaterally and multilaterally, that respond to this shifting global demand for labour. However, fears about the practical and political consequences of permanent settlement of migrants have led to renewed interest in temporary, rather than permanent mobility. The introduction of the H-1B visas in the United States and ‘green cards’ in Germany are recent examples of destination countries opening the door to increasing numbers of skilled non-permanent immigrants. Several origin countries in Asia, including India and the Philippines, also actively seek labour markets for their workers overseas. At the multilateral level, the World Trade Organization's General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) makes provision under its ‘Mode 4’ for member countries to commit themselves to certain defined limits for the temporary inward mobility of service sector workers, although bilateral temporary labour schemes are a more common way in which such mobility is facilitated.

The Centre is at the forefront of trying to understand both the nature of specific temporary worker schemes, and what a liberalisation in temporary mobility would imply for global welfare. So far, this has included analysis of bilateral labour schemes in the Mediterranean, and of options for the UK under its new ‘managed migration’ policy. We have also assembled a new ‘Global Migrant Origin Database’ – a 226x226 matrix of countries of birth and current residence based on analysis of national census and UN data. The full database will be published in 2006, but in the meantime, data has already been used by the World Bank to estimate that an increase of 3% in the work force in high-income countries through migration by 2025 could increase global real income by 0.6 percent, or $356 billion. A separate analysis has also been conducted by Centre researchers for the Asia-Pacific region, whilst the database has been used to compare the relationship between migration and trade in Europe and Central Asia.


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

8b: Characterising Research on Existing Labour Agreements

8c: Temporary Worker Schemes in the UK

8d: Model Code of Conduct for Recruiting Agencies

8e: Comparative Analysis of Welfare Services of Sending Country Missions


The Development Impact of Temporary International Labour Migration on Southern Meditteranean Sending Countries, Aug 2004 (WP-T6)

Developing Country Proposals for the Liberalisation of Movements of Natural Service Suppliers, Jan 2005 (WP-T8)

Making Migration ‘Development Friendly’: Temporary Worker Schemes in the UK, May 05 (WP-T10)

Quantifying the Bilateral Movements of Migrants, Sept 2005 (WP-T13)

GATS Mode 4: How Trade in Services Can Help Developing Countries (BP-4)

Quantifying the Bilateral Movements of Migrants (WP-T13)

See also:
The impact of liberalising labour mobility in the Pacific region (Sept 2005)

The GMig2 database: a data base of bilateral labour migration, wages and remittances


'Challenges and Opportunities of Recruiting Industry in Bangladesh’ on Wednesday 18 June 2008 at RMMRU, University of Dhaka

A workshop on temporary labour mobility in the UK was held at Sussex in May 2004, and this was followed by a panel session at the DSA conference in December of the same year. Meanwhile, modelling work based on the new database has been presented at a GTAP conference in Germany in the summer of 2005, at the DFID lunchtime seminar series in July 2005 and at an ESRC workshop on Trade in Services hosted by the University of Sussex in December 2005.

  © University of Sussex 2003 Text-Only
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With thanks to IOM and Claudia Natali for the photographs