The Republic of Armenia has one of the highest emigration rates in the world, with about 30% of the population living outside the country. The country would benefit from strengthening its whole-of-government approach to making migration an integral part of its overall development strategies, argues a new report by the OECD Development Centre and the Caucasus Research Resource Center (CRRC)-Armenia titled “Interrelations between Public Policies, Migration and Development (IPPMD) in Armenia”.
The report’s launch was hosted by the State Migration Service (SMS) today in Yerevan, in the presence of the Delegation of the European Union to Armenia and policy makers from several ministries. It examines how migration affects key policy sectors in Armenia, particularly the labour market, agriculture, education, and investment and financial services. The report also analyses how sectoral policies influence different migration outcomes, such as the decision to emigrate and return, and remittance patterns.
IPPMD in Armenia is the result of four years of fieldwork, empirical analysis and policy dialogue in Armenia. Overall, 2 000 households representing about 9 000 individuals and 79 communities 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. It is part of a larger comparative project involving nine other countries: Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, the Dominican Republic, Georgia, Haiti, Morocco and the Philippines.
The way migration affects development is not straightforward. Through various dimensions – emigration, remittances and return migration – migration has both positive and negative effects on key sectors of the Armenian economy. Similarly, sectoral policies have indirect impacts on migration and its related development outcomes.
For example, investing in vocational training programmes might reduce migration outflows. The report shows that in Armenia the share of people planning to emigrate is much lower amongst those who benefit from vocational training. Given the lowest skilled occupational group is more likely to plan to emigrate, vocational training programmes may promote upward labour mobility in the domestic labour market and reduce incentives to look for jobs abroad. Remarkably, this is in contrast with the general pattern observed in the other countries surveyed, where such programmes tend to reinforce incentives to migrate.
The amount of remittances flowing into Armenia is significant. According to the IPPMD data and analysis, this income is mostly used to invest in education and purchase agricultural assets. However, remittances are not channelled into productive investments such as diversification into other agricultural activities or non-agricultural business. This may be explained by insufficient access to financial services and the lack of financial literacy, especially in rural areas. Strikingly, only 2% of the rural communities surveyed had a bank account compared with 96% in urban communities. Moreover, less than 1% of surveyed households benefited from a financial training programme.
Overall, the IPPMD Armenia report concludes that migration can benefit Armenia’s economic and social development, but its potential is not yet fully realised. To make the most of migration, policy makers should aim to create an environment where Armenians migrate by choice, and where those who migrate can positively contribute to the development of both Armenia and their countries of destination. In this respect, a more coherent policy agenda requires that policy makers avoid operating in silos and do more to integrate migration into Armenia’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.
For more information on the IPPMD project, please visit: http://www.oecd.org/dev/migration-development/ippmd.htm.
Requests for interviews or a copy of the report should be directed to Hyeshin Park (Hyeshin.firstname.lastname@example.org; +33 (0)1 45 24 95 84) at the OECD Development Centre.