08/08/2017 - Haiti is a country characterised by large emigration flows: emigrants, mostly residing in North America and the Dominican Republic, represent 11% of the population. And the growing diaspora and remittances sent back to families and friends, more than 2000 million USD in 2015, have the potential to contribute to development and reconstruction in Haiti. The country would however benefit from strengthening its whole-of-government approach to making emigration an integral parts of its overall development strategies, argues a new report by the OECD Development Centre and the Interuniversity Institute for Research and Development (INURED) titled “Interrelations between Public Policy, Migration and Development in Haiti" (available in French).
The IPPMD project in Haiti is the result of four years of fieldwork, empirical analysis and policy dialogue in the country. Overall, more than 1 200 households, representing close to 6 000 individuals were interviewed during this ambitious study, co-funded by the European Union. The findings build on innovative quantitative and qualitative surveys that, for the first time, combine questions related to migration and to public policies. The report is part of a larger comparative project involving nine other partner countries: Armenia, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, the Dominican Republic, Georgia, Morocco and the Philippines.
The interrelations between sectoral policies and migration are not straightforward: they strongly depend on the country context and the conditions of implementation of policies. Through various dimensions -emigration, remittances and return migration- migration has both positive and negative effects on key sectors of the Haitian economy, such as the labour market, agriculture, education and investment and financial services. Similarly, sectoral policies have indirect impacts on migration and its related development outcomes. A lack of policy coherence may bring unintended effects and undermine the effectiveness of public policies.
For example, it is often assumed that policies such as vocational training programmes will reduce people’s incentives to emigrate by making them more employable locally. However, the IPPMD analysis shows the opposite: individuals who participated in vocational training programmes are in fact more likely to plan to emigrate in the future (18%) than those who did not (9%) - potentially because the programmes equip would-be migrants with skills that are more useful in the international labour market than in the local labour market. The study also shows that Haiti lacks government employment agencies, an important tool to improve job seeking. As more than half of the emigrants in the IPPMD sample are emigrating to find employment abroad, policies that better tailor vocational training programmes to the local labour market and facilitate the matching of labour supply and demand would reduce the pressure to emigrate.
Haiti receives significant amounts of remittances from its diaspora, representing 25% of its gross domestic product in 2015- the highest share among the IPPMD partner countries. The IPPMD report shows that education is a priority area of investment for remittance-receiving households, and particularly investments in private schooling. One in three households in the sample has used remittances to pay for a household member’s schooling, and youth living in remittance-receiving households are more likely to attend private school (68%) than youth in households without remittances (54%). The increase in the demand for private schooling following remittances needs to be met with investments in both private and public education institutions to ensure access and quality education.
The study further reveals that policy makers could strengthen the development impact of emigration through more productive investments stemming from resources accumulated abroad. Remittances and return migration do not seem to stimulate investments in businesses and real estate in Haiti. This may partly be explained by low financial literacy and financial inclusion: more than half of the households in the sample lack access to a bank account, and only 5% have participated in a financial training programme in the past five years. Government interventions to expand financial inclusion and financial literacy could help stimulate more investments from remittances.
Overall, the Haitian IPPMD report concludes that the development potential of migration for development is not yet fully realised. Making the most of emigration requires creating an environment where Haitians migrate by choice, not by force, and where the large and growing diaspora can positively contribute to the social and economic development of Haiti. In this respect, a more coherent policy agenda requires that policy makers avoid operating in silos and do more to integrate migration into Haiti’s national development strategies. This involves not only adopting specific initiatives focused on migration and development, but also including migration in the design, implementation and evaluation of all relevant sectoral policies.
Requests for interviews or a copy of the report should be directed to Lisa Andersson (email@example.com); +33 (0)1 45 24 74 93) at the OECD Development Centre.