International Migration

Migration may be defined as the movement of people (or animals) from one place to another. People sometimes move from one country to another. This is called international migration. People may choose to move to another country for many reasons. People may move to another country seeking work, education or training, to join parents or other family members already living overseas or even to escape persecution in another country. Some people move to other countries, stay for months or a few years to work or study (or for some other reason) and then return to their country of origin. This is known as short term migration. Other people make a permanent home in another country. This is known as long term migration. The Jamaican experience with migration is similar to the experience of many other Caribbean countries.

Migration: The Jamaican Experience

There is a rather large flow of migrants from Jamaica. Most of these migrants travel to the United States of America (USA), Canada and England. A few travel to other countries outside of the Caribbean. Some travel to other Caribbean territories. Some people are seasonal migrants who work in hotels or on farms in the USA. Others attempt to make permanent homes in other countries.

There is a much smaller flow of migrants into Jamaica. Some of them are people who return to Jamaica after living overseas for many years. Others have obtained work permits and moved from places like India, the USA or other Caribbean countries.

The Effects of International Migration on Jamaica

  • Because the outflow of migrants from Jamaica is much greater than the inflow of migrants to that country, migration helps to slow down the rate of population growth. Also, most emigrants are young people who would probably have children in Jamaica if they remained there. Therefore, migration also helps to reduce the birth rate.
  • Many emigrants are young, talented, ambitious, skilled or educated. These people may have made a great contribution to their home country if they had remained there. Jamaica, like many other countries loses many of its skilled, trained and educated people through migration.
  • Many migrants send money back home to their children, siblings or other relatives. These sums of money are known as remittances. In Jamaica, remittances often bring in as much money into the country as tourism.
  • Many Jamaicans who live overseas return to Jamaica from time to time as tourists to visit friends and family. They rent vehicles, patronize restaurants and other business places and stay at hotels or guests houses. The country benefits from these people just as it would from other tourists.
  • Emigration often leads to further emigration. Children, parents or other relatives often migrate to join migrants who have established themselves overseas.
  • Some emigrants eventually return to Jamaica. Some return after retiring. Some have acquired some qualifications or skills overseas and return to work. Some may have substantial savings which they may use to start a business or build a home.
  • Some migrants are forced to return to Jamaica. Some are deported for being in these countries illegally or because they have been convicted of criminal acts. Others are required to return because their work or student visas have expired.

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