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Foreign Aid and Migration in Low-Income Countries

by Michael Clemens, Hannah Postel | Tuesday, January 24, 2017

In response to the recent migrant and refugee crisis, rich countries have recently redoubled policy efforts to deter future immigration from poor countries. One major strategy has been to combat the “root causes” propelling people to move through large foreign aid packages. This synthesis paper will elaborate the causal pathway underlying these policy decisions: first, do aid commitments and disbursements reflect “root causes” rhetoric; second, how effective are aid projects in achieving their stated goals; and third, how does migration respond to foreign aid outcomes? We distinguish here between crisis assistance and longer-term development assistance. Finally, we explore the potential for donors to leverage foreign aid to shape international migration in other ways than preventing it, altering its effects on destination countries, origin countries, and migrants.

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