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The number of people moving between countries to seek new opportunities is increasing. Today, three times more people live outside their country of birth than 50 years ago. These people are increasingly coming from low- and middle-income countries across Latin America, Asia, and Africa, moving both regionally and internationally for work, study, and family reasons. 

CGD’s work on migration focuses on these dynamics. We explore the relationship between migration and development, showing that as economic growth in low- and middle-income countries increases, so too does migration. We look at demographic imbalances around the world, showing how more managed and skilled migration will be needed to meet growing skill shortages. We look at the drivers of migration and how to mitigate them. And we aim to better regulate migration through innovative policy instruments like Global Skill Partnerships.

In particular, we focus on three key areas:

Supporting North-South migration 

The majority of our work on migration flows focuses on North-South migration, particularly from sub-Saharan Africa to Europe, from the Northern Triangle to the United States, and from the Pacific Islands to Australia and New Zealand. We focus on how high-income country governments can establish proactive rather than reactive policy and programmatic interventions to manage these flows, and aim to enhance the development benefit of mobility in these regions. 

Shifting the migration and development debate 

'We aim to explore the impact of various drivers on both regular and irregular migration patterns. These drivers could be long-run, such as economic growth and increases in education; or short-run, such as spikes in violence; or both, such as climate change. Our research and outreach aims to support donors in addressing these drivers through aid and programmatic responses, moving away from reactive interventions that prioritize deterrence. 

Shaping legal migration

To mitigate growing demographic imbalances, we believe legal migration will need to be better managed and harnessed in the decades to come. To do this, we focus on designing and implementing innovative policy instruments like Global Skill Partnerships which link migration with skills training. We aim to ensure migration benefits all—countries of origin, destination, and the migrants themselves—by enhancing the development benefit of such mobility.