Migration and development

Assessing the Economic Contribution of Labour Migration in Developing Countries as Countries of Destination (ECLM)


Developing countries are home to the majority of the world’s migrants. In many of them, labour migration represents a large share of the workforce in key economic sectors. Is it good or bad for their development?  While remittances, brain circulation, and the role of diasporas have been the subjects of much research and debate in the wake of the 2006 UN High-level Dialogue on Migration and Development, the actual impacts of migration in developing countries as destination countries have long remained poorly documented.

In 2014, therefore, the OECD Development Centre and the International Labour Organization, with support from the European Union, undertook the ECLM project in close collaboration with the governments and researchers of ten partner countries. The results displayed on this page provide a picture of how immigration affects low- and middle-income economies, based on reliable, comparable evidence. They are aimed to help policymakers design better labour and migration policies, improve labour management and secure the appropriate protection of migrant rights.


Comparative report
The report How Immigrants Contribute to Developing Countries' Economies brings together the results of the ten country case studies. It finds that labour migration has a relatively limited impact in terms of native-born workers’ labour market outcomes, economic growth and public finance. Perceptions of negative effects of immigrants are unjustified. But most countries of destination could do more with the human capital and expertise that immigrants bring. Public policies can play a key role in enhancing the contribution of immigrants to their host countries’ development.


Country studies


The recent effects of immigration on the Argentine economy appear to be limited but positive. On average, immigration is not associated with job losses or income declines for the population born in Argentina.



Many immigrants have been in the country for several decades, hence are overrepresented among the older cohorts, resulting in a lower labour force participation rate than among the native-born. Still, the estimated share of value added generated by immigrants exceeds their share of the labour force but also of the population.

Costa Rica

A better understanding of how immigrants shape the economy of Costa Rica can help policy makers formulate policies to boost positive effects and mitigate negative effects of immigration. This report finds that immigration has a limited, but varying, economic impact in Costa Rica.


Immigrants' contribution to Rwanda's economy is relatively small, but growing. Unlike in many other developing countries, immigrants in Rwanda are on average better educated and work in more productive sectors than the native-born population.


Côte d'Ivoire

L'immigration a des effets positifs, quoique limités, sur l’économie de la Côte d’Ivoire. Les immigrés génèrent par ailleurs une valeur ajoutée supérieure à leur pourcentage dans la population et leur présence semble augmenter la productivité des entreprises informelles.




South Africa

Immigrants contribute considerably to South Africa’s economy. In contrast to popular perception, immigration is not associated with a reduction of the employment rate of the native-born population in South Africa, and some groups of immigrants are likely to increase employment opportunities for the native-born.

Dominican Republic

Immigration in the Dominican Republic has a varying but limited economic impact. Immigrants seem to displace native-born workers in the labour market by increasing competition, but no effects were found on the labour income of the native-born population.


The effects of immigration on the Thai economy are considerable, as the number of immigrants has increased rapidly since the turn of the century. Immigrant workers now contribute to all economic sectors.


Immigrant workers contribute to the Ghanaian economy in several ways. They are well integrated in labour markets in terms of employment, although female immigrants often face greater challenges than male immigrants.



Other resources




Find out more

About the Development Centre's work on Migration