Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Greece Boat Tragedy: Are Pakistani Migrants Fleeing Hunger and Poverty?

The extensive news coverage of the loss of Pakistani migrants' lives in the recent Greece boat tragedy has linked it to "hunger" in Pakistan. The essence of these news stories is captured by a quote in a CNN headline: "We'll die of hunger anyway". It is attributed to a young man from the Pakistani town of Gujarat who is unfortunately believed to have drowned in the Mediterranean on his way to Greece.  These stories beg the following questions: Is it really true that Pakistani migrants are fleeing hunger and poverty? How can people suffering from hunger afford to pay thousands of dollars to human smugglers to leave for greener pastures?  

Pakistan Per Capita GDP. Source: World BankPakistan's GDP per capita is about $1,600

The above questions are answered by two recent studies released by the Center for Global Development as follows:  As GDP per capita rises, so do emigration rates. Emigration is seen as an investment as migrants are better-educated and richer than others. A similar 2010 study by the African Development Bank on emigration found that the share of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa remains low despite high levels of hunger and poverty in the region.  Pakistan's rates of emigration have been rising along with  GDP per capita growth over the last decade. It is currently about $1600 per person, according to the World Bank.  Pakistan's latest economic survey  reported that the per capita income in US dollar terms fell to $1,568 in FY23 from $1,766 in the previous year and $1,677 in FY21.


Outward Migration of Pakistani Workers. Source: Pakistan Bureau of Emigration


Two studies based on research by Michael Clemens and Mariapia Mendola released by the Center for Global Development (CGD) report that those who migrate are not among the world’s poorest. To the contrary, they find that migration is seen as an investment as migrants who are better-educated and richer than others. Here are the key points about migration as reported by the studies: 

1. As GDP per capita rises, so do emigration rates. This relationship slows after roughly US$5,000, and reverses after roughly $10,000 (i.e. low- to middle-income, or the level of China or Mexico).  Pakistan's current GDP per capita is about $1,600.  Pakistan's latest economic survey  reported that the per capita income in US dollar terms fell to $1,568 in FY23 from $1,766 in the previous year and $1,677 in FY21

.2. Successful, sustained economic growth in the low-income countries is therefore likely to raise the emigration rate, at least in the short-term. As incomes rise, so too does people’s ability to afford the investments that make migration easier.

3. These new migrants will not be among their countries poorest: in low-income countries, people actively preparing to emigrate have 30 percent higher incomes than the population on average, and 14 percent of these higher incomes come from more years of education.

“The world’s poorest are not the ones who migrate,” said co-author Mariapia Mendola, professor of economics the Universit√† degli Studi di Milano Bicocca and Director of the Poverty and Development Program at Centro Studi Luca d’Agliano in Milan, according to the CGD.  “Migration is seen as an investment, just like higher education. You wouldn’t decide not to send your kids to college just because your family is getting wealthier. Similarly, families are not deciding to stay put as their incomes rise. Migration changes lives and economies for the better.”

“This pattern is not new, or something to fear,” Michael Clemens, director of Migration, Displacement, and Humanitarian Policy and senior fellow at CGD, says. “As a poor country gets richer, at first more people emigrate, until the process eventually slows and reverses itself. We’ve seen it with Sweden a century ago and Mexico a half century ago. We’re seeing it now in Central America, and we’ll hopefully see the pattern emerge in sub-Saharan Africa as that region gets richer.”

A similar 2010 study by the African Development Bank on emigration found that the share of emigration from sub-Saharan Africa remains low despite high levels of poverty. Here's an excerpt of it: 

"Results show that despite an increase in the absolute number of migrants, Africa, particularly SubSaharan Africa, has one of the lowest rate of emigration in the world .... Poorer countries generally have lower rates of emigration ......Bad socio-economic conditions generally seem to lead to higher rate of emigration by highly skilled individuals. Generally, migration is driven by motives to improve livelihoods with notable evidence of changes in labor market status."

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Pakistan is the 7th Largest Source of Migrants in OECD Nations

Pakistani-Americans: Young, Well-educated and Prosperous

Pakistan is the Second Largest Source of Foreign Doctors in US & UK

Pakistan Remittance Soar 30X Since Year 2000

Pakistan's Growing Human Capital

Two Million Pakistanis Entering Job Market Every Year

Pakistan Projected to Be 7th Largest Consumer Market By 2030

Over 800,000 Pakistani Workers Migrated Overseas in 2022

Do South Asian Slums Offer Hope?


8 comments:

Vineeth said...

Sir, why are Pakistani "migrants" so desperate to pay human smugglers and make dangerous voyages to Europe in repurposed, unseaworthy fishing boats in company of Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis - all of them countries ravaged by war?

I have been a reader of the Pakistani newspaper "DAWN" for more than a decade, since I have found its journalism to be of high standard with liberal political leanings comparable to India's "The Hindu". And what do I read these days in that paper? Stark pessimism of the country's prospects - a farcical "democracy" engineered by a military establishment behind the scenes, a popular political leader and his party being systematically dismantled and emasculated, journalists sympathetic to him being picked up and silenced, an economy perpetually tottering on the brink of bankruptcy and surviving on money lent by "friends", a population burdened by sky high inflation, electricty and fuel prices, abysmally low forex reserves, factories shutting down due to inbility to import raw materials and CKD kits.. the list is quite long. Apparently there is no immediate end in sight for this, and there is greater pain in store for the country's hapless population as the government is forced to implement more of IMF's diktats in the coming months.

The economic situation of Pakistan isn't normal. People are losing hope in their government and the country's economic prospects. So, it isn't suprising that they are willing to risk their lives in rickety boats for a better future abroad. Its not me who is saying all this, but the news reports, editorials and articles in that newspaper.

Riaz Haq said...

Vineeth: "Sir, why are Pakistani "migrants" so desperate to pay human smugglers and make dangerous voyages to Europe"

For the same reason that migrants from India and many other developing countries do.

I just did a quick Google search for "Indian migrants dying" and saw lots of results showing thousands of deaths each year.

Most recently, several Indian migrants have tragically frozen to death at US-Canada border trying to enter US. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-65171856


Here's another report of hundreds of Indian migrants deaths trying to illegally enter UK from France via the English Channel:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/683-indians-crossed-the-english-channel-illegally-on-small-boats-in-2022/articleshow/98571075.cms?from=mdr

Here's another report about thousands of Indian migrants detentions at US-Mexico border:

https://qz.com/an-unprecedented-number-of-indians-are-trying-to-enter-1849637849

Riaz Haq said...

Veneeth: "But why are the numbers of Pakistanis disproportionately higher (if news reports are to be believed) when you consider that it has only one-sixth the population of India?"


Please don't go by sensational media headlines that follow tragedies like the recent Greece boat sinking. Indians illegally crossing by small boats into England have so far been lucky. If, God forbid, any of those boats had sunk, you'd see similar headlines about Indian illegal migrants.


Indians Become Second-Largest Migrant Group Crossing Channel Illegally to the UK: Home Office


https://thewire.in/world/indians-have-overtaken-albanians-to-become-second-largest-migrant-group-in-uk-home-office

London: Indians are now the second largest group of migrants crossing into the UK over the English Channel on risky small boats, according to the UK Home Office. According to the data, 675 Indian nationals entered the country by small boat between January and March, amid a “surge in attempts to evade work visa restrictions”, The Daily Mail has reported.

----

As to Pakistanis in Italy, there are over 131,000 Pakistanis legally residing in Italy.

https://www.integrazionemigranti.gov.it/AnteprimaPDF.aspx?id=2924#:~:text=Overall%2C%20between%202010%20and%202018,in%20Italy%20as%20a%20whole



Of the arrivals (in Italy) so far this year (2023), the top country of origin is Guinea (1,654), followed by the Ivory Coast (1,511), Pakistan (997), Tunisia (846), Egypt (490) and Bangladesh (447).

In 2022, the top country of origin was Egypt (20,542), followed by Tunisia (18,148), Bangladesh (14,982), Syria (8,594) and Afghanistan (7,241).

https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/migrant-arrivals-italy-rise-despite-high-danger-2023-02-26/

SAMIR SARDANA said...

THE CORRELATION OF PER CAPITA AND MIGRATION IS KNOWN

BUT NOT THE CAUSATION

PER CAPITA INCOME IS IN REALITY NOT PER CAPITA GDP

WHEN A POOR NATION SUDDENLY SHOOTS UP ITS PER CAPITAL GDP - INEQUALITIES RISE AND ARE APPARENT TO THE EYE !

SO PER CAPITA GDP IS NOT THE SAME AS PER CAPITA INCOME !

TAKE CHAIWALA INDIA ! IF THE TOP 100 CORPORATES DOUBLE THEIR SALES IN 5 YEARS - IT IS A FAIR CHANCE THAT PER CAPITA GDP WILL RISE BY 70% ! BUT PER CAPITA INCOME MIGHT RISE BY 10%

SO THIS CONTRAST AND INEQUALITY - STRIKES THE PEOPLE WHEN PER CAPITA GDP JUMPS - WHICH IS NOT MATCHED BY PER CAPITA INCOME ! THIS SHOCK MAKES PEOPLE REALISE THAT THERE IS NO HOPE IN HOMELAND AND GIVES RISE TO GREED,AVARICE,TEMPTATION AND AMBITION !

AND THAT DESPERATION TAKES THEM TO THE SEA ! AS NOW,THEY HAVE SOME "INCREMENTAL INCOME" - SO THEIR BRAINS START TO TICK ! AS TIME PASSES SOME ACQUIRE SKILLS AND EDUCATION !

SO NOW THE ONLY THING IS TO REACH EU !

EACH PAKISTANI IN EU, IS A DEFERRED ANNUITISED INCOME STREAM,FOR LIFE ! IN HIS LIFE, THEY WILL REMIT AT LEAST 80000 EU TO PAKISTAN ! AND IN ALL PROBABILITY, PAKISTAN WOULD HAVE SPENT LESS THAN 500 USD ON THEIR EDUCATION !

SO IT IS ONLY ABOUT HEADLINE MANAGEMENT ! PAKISTAN MOFA AND INT HAVE TO ENSURE THAT PAKISTANIS GET SAFE PASSAGE TO EU -AS IN NO MASS DROWNINGS !

THE REASONS FOR BOATS = COST ! SO THE PAKISTANIS HAVE TO BE EDUCATED ON BASICS ON SEA SAFETY !

NO PAKISTANI SHOULD BE IN A SEALED CARGO HOLD ON SEA (AS THAT IS THE CHEAPEST BOAT TICKET)
NO PAKISTANI SHOULD BE IN AN UNSEAED CARGO HOLD IN THE BOTTOM OF THE SHIP (AS THAT IS THE 2ND CHEAPEST BOAT TICKET)!
EVERY ONE SHOULD HAVE A VEST

THIS WILL ENSURE THAT THE COST WILL RISE AND PAKISTANI MIGRANTS HAVE TO REALISE THE ECONOMIC VALUE OF LIFE VS RISK OF DEATH ! THEY WILL PAY THE INCREMENTAL COST !

ALSO NO PAKISTANIS SHOULD BE TRANSPORTED IN SEALED CONTAINERS ON SEA !

AND NO PAKISTANIS SHOULD BE TRANSPORTED IN SEALED CONTAINERS ON LAND IN EU ON ROADS IN SUMMER !

PAKISTAN SHOULD "INDIRECTLY FINANCIALLY AID" PAKISTANI MIGRANT REFUGEES ! THAT WILL MAKE THEM USE SAFER ROUTES TO MIGRATE - AND ENSURE NO DEATHS ! THAT TAKES CARE OF HEADLINES !
IT IS VERY EASY TO STRUCTURE,A NON-RECOURSE LOAN SCHEME,FOR SUCH MIGRANTS - WITH THE IMPLICIT UNDERSTANDING THAT,THEY WILL NOT BE,IN CARGO HOLDS ! dindooohindoo


Anonymous said...

Funny you are asking this question. Just yesterday I was talking to an immigration lawyer you mentioned that on of the biggest illegal immigrants into US through Mexico are Indians. So,why are Indians so desperate to leave the their shining country?

G. Ali

Anonymous said...

Samir, one question, why do you post everything in upper case (capital) letters? You know that is considered shouting on the net

Also, please keep your comments short and civil.

G. Ali

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan recorded an inflow of $2 billion as part of remittances sent by Pakistanis working abroad

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2353346/pakistan


“Remittances inflows during July 23 were mainly sourced from Saudi Arabia ($486.7 million), United Arab Emirates ($315.1 million), United Kingdom ($305.7 million) and United States of America ($238.1) million respectively,” the SBP said in a statement.


----------------

Pakistan’s remittance flow declined by more than 7 percent in July on a month-on-month basis, the Pakistani central bank said on Thursday, with Saudi Arabia being the largest contributor.

The South Asian country recorded an inflow of $2 billion as part of remittances sent by Pakistanis working abroad, according to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).

However, the inflows recorded a huge drop of 19 percent on a year-on-year basis.

“Remittances inflows during July 23 were mainly sourced from Saudi Arabia ($486.7 million), United Arab Emirates ($315.1 million), United Kingdom ($305.7 million) and United States of America ($238.1) million respectively,” the SBP said in a statement.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have deep cultural, defense and economic ties, deeply rooted in history and religion. The Kingdom is home to over two million Pakistanis, making it the largest contributor to remittance inflows into the South Asian country.

The decline in remittances comes at a time when Pakistan is about to witness the transition of power to a caretaker government in August that would run the South Asian country for at least three months until a general election, due in November.

Embroiled in economic and political crises for more than a month, Pakistan secured a crucial $3 billion deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in late June after months of delay, with economists blaming the delay in signing the IMF deal for the economic turmoil.

Dr. Vaqar Ahmed, Joint Executive Director at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), said the government’s inability to sign a timely deal with the IMF had been damaging to the economy.

“During [Finance Minister Ishaq] Dar’s tenure, particularly three areas, energy prices, exchange rate, tax exemptions and also tax rates remained under the observations of IMF and conditions related to these areas became more stringent,” Ahmed told Arab News.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan recorded an inflow of $2 billion as part of remittances sent by Pakistanis working abroad

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2353346/pakistan


“Remittances inflows during July 23 were mainly sourced from Saudi Arabia ($486.7 million), United Arab Emirates ($315.1 million), United Kingdom ($305.7 million) and United States of America ($238.1) million respectively,” the SBP said in a statement.


----------------

Pakistan’s remittance flow declined by more than 7 percent in July on a month-on-month basis, the Pakistani central bank said on Thursday, with Saudi Arabia being the largest contributor.

The South Asian country recorded an inflow of $2 billion as part of remittances sent by Pakistanis working abroad, according to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).

However, the inflows recorded a huge drop of 19 percent on a year-on-year basis.

“Remittances inflows during July 23 were mainly sourced from Saudi Arabia ($486.7 million), United Arab Emirates ($315.1 million), United Kingdom ($305.7 million) and United States of America ($238.1) million respectively,” the SBP said in a statement.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have deep cultural, defense and economic ties, deeply rooted in history and religion. The Kingdom is home to over two million Pakistanis, making it the largest contributor to remittance inflows into the South Asian country.

The decline in remittances comes at a time when Pakistan is about to witness the transition of power to a caretaker government in August that would run the South Asian country for at least three months until a general election, due in November.

Embroiled in economic and political crises for more than a month, Pakistan secured a crucial $3 billion deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in late June after months of delay, with economists blaming the delay in signing the IMF deal for the economic turmoil.

Dr. Vaqar Ahmed, Joint Executive Director at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), said the government’s inability to sign a timely deal with the IMF had been damaging to the economy.

“During [Finance Minister Ishaq] Dar’s tenure, particularly three areas, energy prices, exchange rate, tax exemptions and also tax rates remained under the observations of IMF and conditions related to these areas became more stringent,” Ahmed told Arab News.