A. Venturini: Postwar Migration Patterns in Southern Europe, 1950-2000

Postwar Migration Patterns in Southern Europe, 1950-2000. An Economic Analysis

Venturini, Alessandra
286 S.
Rezensiert für 'Connections' und H-Soz-Kult von:
Prof. Dr. Dirk Hoerder Universität Bremen, FB 8 Migrationsforschung PF 33 04 40 28334 Bremen

This study first discusses the evolution of migration in four southern European countries, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Greece, and then outlines different approaches to migration. On this basis, the author analyzes, first, the choice to migrate; second, the effect of immigration in the receiving country as well as, third, the effects in the country of origin; she finally turns to issues of managing migration and the effectiveness of migration policies. Within the European Union -- before the eastward expansion -- southern Europe was characterized by comparatively high unemployment and a comparatively large informal sector, accessible to migrants, which accounted for between 15 and 25 percent of the economies as a whole. The four countries were characterized by emigration since the 1950s -- a continuity from the pre-World War Two period. By the 1990s, they attracted migrants but they did not define themselves as immigration countries. Nevertheless, governments faced the issued from in-migration to some degree and discussed policies. The selection of the four cases is well justified from the availability of data, the northward "guestworker" migrations and the increasing attractiveness to migrants from further south including large numbers of undocumented ones. Given that on the northern side of the Mediterranean the "old" Yugoslavia was a migrant sending country, too, if under a different political and economic system, and given that much of the new migration originates in northern Africa, a discussion of the Mediterranean region as a whole would have been helpful though methods of data collection and approaches to migration are certainly different in these countries. The author does refer to the region of origin whenever the data permit to do so.

The study is exemplary as regards the integration of data, both in the form of tables and graphs, with the text; as regards the exposition of the argument both in the introduction and at the beginning of each chapter; as regards well-reasoned summaries at the end of each chapter. The time series on the evolution of migration provide figures for departures, indicate directions, and -- in graphs -- demonstrate differences in migration peaks between destinations selected. In Chapter Two, the choice to migrate is discussed at first in terms of the several economic models available and their empirical validity is assessed. A discussion of the "gravitational" approach and sociological approaches to migration complete the broad overview. Approaches and models are evaluated in detail, an extremely broad range of studies is covered, summarized and compared as to achievements and limitations. The emphasis placed on economic studies, however, also reflects the particular strengths and parallel shortcomings of the economic sciences. Research concentrates on contributions of migrants through work or, in the case of unemployment or of person not entering the labour market, as regards the need for benefits. While economics as a discipline foreground the productive side, in-migrants as consumers also increase demand and thus implicitly provide an impetus to economic growth. This aspect still needs further research. The author is sensitive to gender differentiation but the wager-earner, production-side bias of economics skews research to male workers since family consumption decisions and allocation of funds within family economies has traditionally been defined as women's sphere.

In a valiant effort to counter the limitations of economics, the author discusses the difference between the impact of wage differentials on migration choices -- the data indicate that they are more important than recent historical work has suggested -- and of "satisfaction" in lives and goal-achievements as a reason to migrate and to turn a temporary stay in the receiving country into a long-term or permanent one. This attempt at transcending the economic approaches, however, cannot surmount the limits imposed by differing methodologies: satisfaction cannot be measured in the same way as economic factors and the social sciences have not developed scales for measuring satisfaction. The "satisfaction"-issue is of even more importance in the case of the impact of migration on the sending countries or those parts of family and on neighbours that remain in the community of origin. Remittances are generally used, in an economic sense, unproductively -- the satisfy consumption and social aspirations. If invested, such activity often occurs in regions in which there are few or now perspectives to make investments pay off. Numerous questions remained to be answered: To what degree do remittances permit marginal economic activities to continue without recourse to social security or, alternatively, without recourse to internal rural-urban migrations? To what degree does an increase in living standards decrease out-migration and increase educational performance? To what degree does remittance-driven consumption increase demand and thus stimulate growth in the country of origin -- unless demand is for imported goods, as some data indicate? To reemphasize: the author does her best with the data available and should not be faulted for the limitations of particular approaches current in economics. Into the summary, she included her own substantial empirical work.

As to migration policies, A. Venturini pursues her thoughtful and balanced evaluation from which politicians and policy-makers alike could learn. Like other scholars, she noted that an open admission policy will discourage illegal migration and it may decrease migration pressure since mobility back and forth remains an option with no law-imposed cut-off dates for admission forcing an acceleration of migration decisions. Venturini notes that for states it has became ever more difficult to effectively manage migration in the sense of selection of migrants or imposition of quotas or ceilings. Thus, the one promising policy in order to reduce migration would be major changes in the standard of living in the migrants' societies of origin -- a demand that numerous NGOs have raised for long. This is not an exclusionist argument but one for an equalization of living conditions. In this respect, another shortcoming of economic studies needs mention: If the southern European countries, like the rest of Europe, face increasing numbers of refugee arrivals from civil wars and oppressive regimes, how do profits from supplying arms to parties in civil strife or to repressive governments compare to cost of subsequent refugee accommodation in the supplier states? This would have to be assessed on a European or northern hemisphere scale.

In conclusion, Venturini's economic analysis of a half century of migration into four southern European countries is a model of clarity and of explicit exposition of both performance and limitations of the many approaches under review -- the author probably did not overlook a single study concerning the region as a whole. The questions raised in this review both as regards a Mediterranean perspective and as regards overcoming the limits of economics require, perhaps, a collaborative effort and, definitely, a cooperation between disciplines on an integrated methodological level.

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