The host countries’ societies do not always appreciate a seemingly obvious fact: migrants are not just a “workforce” or some “median population.” They move from one country to another in search of jobs and better life opportunities. They have their own problems and vulnerabilities.
Usually, this understanding comes when countries receive large numbers of migrants. This was the case in West Germany after it implemented its guest worker programmes in the 1960s. This is happening now in Russia, a country that became the centre of a vast Eurasian migration system relatively recently, with the collapse of the USSR. It rapidly turned into one of the world’s largest immigration systems – alongside those in North America, Western Europe and the Middle East (centred on the Persian Gulf).
Over 281 million people, or about 3.6 percent of the planet’s population, are now involved in the processes of international migration. This is 128 million, or three times more than in 1990.
Thus, international migration is exerting an enormous infl uence on the demographic dynamics, labour markets and socio-economic processes – both in host states and countries of origin. The academic community as well as politicians and journalists tend to approach migration as a macroeconomic process, ignoring the needs of individual migrants. Meanwhile, it is no less important to see how migration affects the destinies of individual migrants and their family members, not just the economies and societies that are involved in migration processes.