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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

2000, Vol. 3 No. 2 .


Emigration Dynamics in Developing Countries: Vol: IV The Arab Region
Reginald Appleyard (ed.)

Aldershot: Ashgate, 1999
277pp. Hb.: 42.50; ISBN 1-8401-45528



This is the fourth publication of the research project on the Migration Dynamics in Developing Countries', sponsored since 1993 by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFA), and International Organisation for Migration (IOM). Together with the previous three concerning Sub-Saharan Africa; Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean; and South Asia, it enriches considerably our knowledge and understanding on the relevant issues.

Four chapters examine respectively the migration dynamics in Egypt (by Mayar Farrag), Magreb (Nadji Safir), Jordan, Palestine and Lebanon (Seteny Shami), and the Gulf Co-operation Council countries (Lynne Evans and Ivy Papps). Although the search for better employment opportunities has been the main motive for migration, flight from persecution, civil war and ethnic conflicts per se with non-Arab communities have been constant. Ethnic strife and conflicts among the independent Arab states also abound.

Two chapters are theoretical. Nazli Choucri argues that a 'win-win' regional migration strategy can be achieved (p38ff). Truly, the chapters above indicate basic economic complementarities in the region. Large and rapidly growing populations live in countries with poor natural resources and limited capital accumulation, whereas other countries need foreign labour to exploit their rich oil reserves and sustain fundamental services in education, health and transportation. However, the chapters also reveal a sharply declining capacity of the receiving countries to absorb additional labour, their efforts to substitute local for foreign labour and their restrictive naturalisation and even social integration policies (pp51, 77, 140, 223). Furthermore the authors observe that although migration provides high remittances to the poorer countries, it also causes problems: social tensions and political instability (pp75, 80, 84); adverse wealth effects on unskilled labour supply causing labour shortages despite high unemployment (p68f, 187); returnees exhibit a diminishing work ethic because of the lower wages offered at home (pp71); import booms and wide trade deficits due to changing consumption patterns (p70); skill and resource wastes (p72). Migration policy has to deal with those issues, taking also into account the increasing competition from Asian labour and emigration pressures from the destitute populations of the Sub-Saharan and neighbouring areas to enter the region (pp125-6).

The other theoretical chapter by Stahl and Bradford analyses the main determinants of migration and concludes with an economic model based on an imput-output technique and aiming to evaluate the propensity to emigrate. Their endeavour is thus in line with current efforts of other researchers to measure the migration potential in a given country.

Despite some reservations on my part concerning the desirability of Choucri's hypothesis of relying on regional migration patterns rather than looking farther afield, the book contains much useful material on a little known region of the world. It should find a place in any serious university library.


Rossetos Fakiolas, National Technical University



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