Essay: Causes and consequences of migration

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  • Subject area(s): Sociology essays
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  • Published on: July 28, 2019
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Introduction

“It is important to theories on causes and consequences of migration in order to develop an understanding of migration as a dynamics process which is in constant interaction with broader change process in destination an origin societies”
(Castle, de Haas & Miller, 2014, p. 27)

Some researchers argue that migration is driven only by geographical differences, such as income, employment and opportunities (Castle, de Haas & Miller, 2014). Although, this sounds quite reasonable, this is not always the case and it definitely does not explain which causes will occur when migration happens. According to Castle, et al. (2014), ‘most migrants do not move from the poorest to the wealthiest countries, and thus, one could argue that ‘the volume and complexity of migration often increases with development’ (p.25).
However, as also argued by Castle et al. (2014), I do not believe that one should deny the fact that inequalities in income, employment and life opportunities are important key factors in migration. Therefore one could argue that ‘in order to fully understand migration, one should notice that the reasons or drives to migrate are multifold and connected to one another’ (Castle et al., 2014).
The causes of migration can be explained by various models and theories developed over the last couple of decades. Examples of these theories are the ‘functionalist model’, ‘the historical-structural model’, ‘the middle-range theories’, and ‘the meta-theoretical approaches’ (Castle et al., 2014). When going more into depth about these theories, to explain the different causes or drives of migration, one is able to explain the impacts and consequences migration can have on the country of destination as well as the country of origin.
I, personally, agree with the statement that one could only understand the consequences of migration by taking into account its causes. To provide arguments for this statement the paper will focus and different events in history, which provided major migration streams and that help to explain the connection between the causes and consequences of migration. Firstly, this will be done by explaining colonialism and post-colonialism as causes for migration and present day consequences in the United States and the Netherlands. In the second section, there will be emphasized on the notion of guest workers as migrants within the Netherlands and how migration policies in the past have led to present day consequences. Thirdly, the migration flows after the new millennium is discussed. The last section, the conclusion, will contain a short summary of the paper. This will include the arguments made earlier to underpin why migration consequences cannot be understood without explaining migration causes.

Colonialism & post-colonialism
In order to understand some the migration flows around the world, it is necessary to delve into history. Especially, there must be taken into account the colonial and post-colonial history of countries play a large role in the motives of migrants. According to Castle et al., (2014) migration as an escape from poverty and oppressive conditions and a way of seeking new opportunities is an important part of the history of modern societies’ (p. 85).
When looking into colonialism, one could argue that this historical event gave rise to different flows of migration (Castle et al., 2014). Not only did European countries take away millions of people from their original homeland, Africa, to use them as slaves in other countries. Also Europeans themselves moved to the colonial countries, for example as sailors, soldiers, farmers and so forth, of which most of them never returned (Castle et al., 2014). This means that already during the colonial times people were settled all over the world, which was either by force or voluntary.
In this chapter, an overview will be given of how migration during colonialism and post-colonialism has had an influence on the present day.

The United States: slavery and the Jim Crow system
It is important to understand that colonialism and especially slavery had been a ‘major source of capital accumulation in the United States, but also in Europe’ (Castle et al, 2014). This is important because this made the industrial revolution possible in the 18th and 19th century, which in turn led to other migration forms.
When focusing on the United States, immigration from European countries, such as Italy and Ireland, was major during the industrial take off. To make sure, there were enough jobs for Europeans, the Jim Crow system was invented after the abolition of slavery (Castle et al., 2014). This system of discriminatory laws was meant to keep the Blacks in there place, namely on the Southern plantations, even though they were actual ‘free’ people.
This system is the cause of the still existing segregation and disadvantages of Black people in the United States. Because of the discriminatory laws and segregation during the Jim Crow period, African American are extremely disadvantaged when it comes to political rights and economic opportunities. African Americans, most often, live in poor urban neighborhoods, the so-called ghettos, because they were prevented from living in white neighborhoods by discriminatory real estate practices (Wacquant, 2001). Moreover, since education was also segregated and less money was put into Black schools, causing for lower quality teachers and teaching materials, children in black schools were less educated in comparison to white schools. This is a vicious cycle, in which the black people stay poor due to bad education, which in turn, leads to lower skilled jobs, less money, and thus, less opportunities for the future generations. On the other hand, the white majority, even though them being from different European countries, have had the privilege to make use of the opportunities taken away from the African Americans. They were able to take part in the industrial revolution, which led to them becoming the working class. However, one should keep in mind that this led to ethnic segmentation. This is due to the fact that ‘the American working class developed through the processes of chain or network migration’, which meant that some groups settled into a specific area in the United States due to work possibilities after which others with the same ethnic background followed (Castle et al, 2014, p.91).
To conclude, to understand the present day events in the United States in regards to the African American minority in comparison to the white majority, one has to understand the migration flows, either forced or voluntary, during the colonial and post-colonial times.

The Netherlands and Surinam: why does one want to go back to their colonial ruler?
During colonial times and long after, the Netherlands were in charge of Surinam and the Dutch Antilles. Still up till this day, the Dutch language is the official language in these countries. After 1965, many migrants from the Caribbean territory came to the Netherlands, especially Surinam, which led to a large amount of Surinamese people within this country (Castle et al., 2014).
People from these countries could migrate freely to the Netherlands due to the fact that they officially belonged to the Dutch kingdom (Stiphout, 2013). Most of these migrants came to the Netherlands because of economic reasons or academic opportunities; however, this was not the only reason.
The two extreme migration flows from Surinam to the Netherlands were due to two decisions made by the Dutch government. Firstly, after declaring Surinam independent, an enormous amount of Surinamese people migrated to the Netherlands (Stiphout, 2013). This was due to the fact the Surinamese inhabitants feared that this would lead to a lost of wealth, stability and freedom (Ersanilli, 2007). This was an interesting factor for the Dutch government, because of the fact that they hoped that the independence of Surinam would stop the earlier started migration for economic opportunities (Stiphout, 2013). The second large migration flow occurred in 1980. This migration flow started because of the decision of the Dutch government to implement a mandatory visa (Ersanilli, 2007). As mentioned previously, people from Surinam were able to migrate freely to the Netherlands due to being part of the Dutch kingdom. However, after the announcement of this policy, Surinamese people were afraid of the difficulties this might bring to their entry possibilities in the Netherlands. For this reason, an enormous flow was found around this period (Ersanilli, 2007).
Thus, one could argue that, within this specific case, the decision and policy making by the Dutch government to stop or reduce free migration from Surinam to the Netherlands have led to the opposite results. However, to understand this interesting case of independence leading to more migration to the colonial rules, one should take into account the historical ties between Surinam and the Netherlands, and the influences of the Dutch government.

Guest-workers in the Netherlands, 1960s
During the 1950’s and 1960’s a lot of migrants came into the Netherlands as guest workers, whom where recruited by the Dutch government (Ersanilli, 2007). According to Castle et al., (2014) ‘some economists argued that migrant labor have made a crucial contribution to the post-war boom, in which migrant workers replaced the local workers, who were then able to obtain more highly skilled jobs (p.243). This was also the case for the Netherlands. In the first years of the recruitment, most guest workers came from Southern Europe; however, later on most guest workers came from countries as Turkey and Morocco (Ersanilli, 2007).
The reasons for the Dutch government to recruit guest workers from these countries confirm the statement made by Castle et al. (2014). After the Second World War and the reconstruction period, the Dutch economy was doing well. Because growth in production and demand a shortage of workers occurred for the unskilled jobs (infoNu.nl, 2007). At the same time, there was much unemployment in Turkey and Morocco and because of this the payments in the Netherlands were attractive to them. Therefore, one could argue that the lack of employment, and thus, low economic opportunities, was a motive for Turkish and Moroccan people to migrate to the Netherlands.
Since the Netherlands always lived under the impression that the guest workers would return, no integration policies were made and the migrant workers were always very much encouraged to maintain their own culture (Ersanilli, 2007). However, after the recruitment of guest workers stopped in 1974, the Dutch government noticed that a lot of these guest workers stayed and brought out their families (Ersanilli, 2007). This caused an increase of the Turkish and Moroccan population in the Netherlands.

A change of hearts: dual citizenship and the notion of security
At first, the lack of integration was not seen as a problem, because of the still existing “myth of return”, however, in the 20th and 21st century this idea changed (Ersanilli, 2007). This was due to the fact that the discourse within the Netherlands itself changed, where emphasis was put on the duties of citizens instead of on the right of citizens (Ersanilli, 2007). An example of this are the policies made around citizenship. In the earlier days, access to citizenship was made possible when one lived in the Netherlands for five years as a legal resident (Ersanilli, 2007). Also, in 1992 dual citizenship was introduced, by which migrants were allowed to have both citizenship to their country of origin as well as citizenship of the Netherlands. However, since 2014 it is not longer allowed to register with dual citizenship, and the Dutch government tries to limit the already existing amount of people with dual citizenship by asking them to choose between one or the other (Rijksoverheid, n.d.). The main reason for changing the Dutch policy is due to the notion of security (Vertovec, 2004). By forcing people to choose for one nationality, encourages the integration process. Moreover, by rejecting dual citizenship the feeling of security increases when it comes to the fear of terrorism.
As mentioned previously, most guest workers were from Turkish or Moroccan descent. Due to the fact that most of them did not return to their country of origin, and instead brought out their families, the largest ethnic groups in the Netherlands are Turkish and Moroccan. After the attack on the World Trade Centre, a large fear was developed against the Muslim community, also within the Netherlands. This has led to a change in the political climate, in which a large emphasis was put on the Muslim culture and how the migrant guest workers were ‘pampered by the lacking integration policies at the expense of the native Dutch society ‘(Ersanilli, 2007). Thus, one could argue, as also mentioned by Ersanilli (2007), that the Dutch society nowadays view migrants as a factor of hinder when it comes to integration, instead of the earlier view of migrants as a factor of enrichment (p. 7).

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