How do migrants contribute to society?

How do migrants contribute to society?

Phyllisia Ross, Isabel Allende, Rodney Wallace. Three migrants making creative and inspiring contributions to their communities. And they’re not alone.

The positive impacts of migration for both host and origin communities have been well documented. However, they are often underreported or unacknowledged in public debates. According to migration policy research, there are three main categories through which migrants contribute to their communities:

  • Sociocultural refers to social and cultural factors, such as habits, traditions and beliefs.
  • Civic-political relates to solving problems in the community through volunteering, engaging with political processes or government offices.
  • Economic describes any activities involving trade, industry or money. Immigration has been shown to stimulate economic growth and contributes to the global gross domestic product (GDP).

Some of the sociocultural contributions of migrants to host communities include increasing food diversity, the creation of new music and sporting achievements. A Honduran migrant opened a restaurant, bringing cuisine from his country of origin to the Mexican culinary scene. A Venezuelan migrant established an orchestra in the Dominican Republic to share his music with the youth of his community. In 2019, Emmanuel Iwe, an 18 year old Nigerian football player signed a contract with Deportivo Saprissa, a Costa Rican football club. These are only a handful of the myriad of stories that make up the multifaceted contributions of migrants.

The extent to which migrants can participate in civic-political activities depends on the policy settings of their host communities, at national, subnational and local levels. The ethnic diversity of the 116th Congress of the United States, in which a historic 16 percent of members were either first- or second-generation migrants, highlights their propensity to civic-political contributions. Diaspora communities also have the potential to engage in political processes in their countries of origin, including by promoting peacebuilding efforts.

In their destination countries, migrants are involved in a multitude of economic activities. Research shows that both low- and high-skilled migrant workers have filled labour shortages thereby facilitating increased productivity in certain sectors. Studies also suggest that migrants are more likely to become entrepreneurs due to their resilience and ‘growth mindset’, developed as a result of overcoming the challenges involved in moving to a new country.

According to the World Migration Report 2020, migrants enhance global innovation in four ways:

  1. Migrants’ higher concentration in economic sectors that tend to be more innovative;
  2. Through patents and as entrepreneurs;
  3. Their greater contribution to business start-ups compared with natives;
  4. By fostering investment, trade and technology linkages.

Migrants also make significant economic contributions to their countries and communities of origin through numerous channels. The most widely recognized is remittances, that is, transfers of money, which are often used to meet the basic needs of families and communities. Diaspora bonds are another key instrument of support. They allow countries to raise necessary funds, such as after disasters, whilst avoiding accumulating debt from expensive lenders. Moreover, migrants also enhance economic development and productivity in their home countries through foreign direct investments and the creation of new businesses.

Whilst many media reports of migrants focus on numbers of arrivals, returns and deportations, it is important to remember the human faces and stories behind these statistics. Migrants play diverse sociocultural, civic-political and economic roles in both their origin and destination countries, as workers, students, entrepreneurs, family members, artists, and much more.

For more information on how to cover migration issues in media, read our 7 recommendations.


Turn on the microphones! Five keys to giving youth a voice on migration issues

Turn on the microphones! Five keys to giving youth a voice on migration issues
Categoria: Communication & Migration
Autor: Guest Contributor

Radio is still a medium that, especially in rural areas where access to the Internet is difficult, is still very much alive and shows itself to be an accessible alternative for the population. Whether in the car, in an app on the phone or in a device that only works with batteries in the most remote areas, the radio is there a few steps away and almost effortlessly. Entertaining us, informing us and accompanying our daily activities. From the largest cities to the most sparsely populated municipalities, radio is an industry that generates jobs and is vital for the dissemination of mass messages to a wide variety of audiences.

How can radio be harnessed as an avenue to empower young people about migration?

After seeing the high impact that this media has on the culture of our communities, these are some actions to be taken that will allow us to bring the message of regular, orderly and safe migration to a youth who may be victims of crimes associated with irregular migration:

  • Find out about community radio or radio stations in your city: This will help you to know all the spaces that exist within the community and to identify the audiences they are aimed at in order to choose the right channel that connects with young people.
  • Identify young leaders in their communities with communication skills: There is no better way to communicate with youth than through voices they can empathize with and identify with.
  • Create content that connects: Talking about migration does not require a serious or monotonous tone. Try to create short but effective messages with easy to understand language and prioritizing the use of storytelling instead of communicating concepts.
  • Create your own online radio station: The radio has undergone a significant evolution in recent years and proof of this is that the number of Internet radio stations has been increasing, which has led to the democratization of radio. You no longer need big budgets to have your own radio station and broadcast different contents 24 hours a day, this is a good alternative if there are not or do not have access to have space on traditional radio stations.
  • Develop empowering initiatives: Young people possess many talents: dynamism, fast learning and, of course, a lot of creativity. Therefore generating training spaces on radio production issues will help to discover hidden talents and form new opinion leaders, without leaving behind the importance of also empowering them on migration issues, this will allow them to transmit better messages that promote a safe, orderly and regular human mobility and will help them themselves to make better decisions regarding migration.

A success story of such activities is 'Youth on the Airwaves', a workshop on radio and migration that harnesses the energy of young people who are leaders in their communities and shows them the potential of the radio industry as a method of generating livelihoods and making their voices heard.

As a product of this initiative, the young people created their own radio spots to promote a better informed migration, from the ideation of the creative concept, script development, voice-over practice, recording and editing, in all these processes they received the support of both IOM staff and a team of experts in radio production.

A few years ago, former United Nations Secretary Ban Ki-moon stressed that "radio is very important to make the voice of youth heard, it stimulates the imagination and shortens the distances between people". One more reason to bring the media closer and generate spaces for youth in order to disseminate messages aimed at providing the population with sufficient and verified information that will allow them to make better decisions before embarking on a migratory route.