Causes and Consequences of major migration flows since 1945.

Essay by owl_jennyUniversity, Bachelor's May 2003

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All through history, people have left their homes and travelled to other countries in order to settle and work there. This process of international migration increased during the nineteenth century as Europeans emigrated to the Americas, but the most rapid increase in the numbers of migrants occurred during the twentieth century, particularly after the second world war. Since 1945, the types of migrants, their countries of origin, their destinations and the patterns of their movement have diversified and undergone a series of changes. One can identify two major phases of international migration with distinct trends; from 1945 to the early 1970s, most investment was concentrated in the industrialised nations of the west and the main sources of migration were workers from the European periphery. After the 1973-4 oil crisis plunged the world into recession, migration patterns became more complex as world trade and investments changed, new technologies developed and a range of global political events stirred the world.

I will examine the trends that emerged during these two periods and attempt to account for their causes and consequences.

Immediately after the second World War, many Western European countries began recruiting guestworkers from the less wealthy European countries. The European Voluntary Worker scheme was set up in response to the serious labour shortage that resulted from military losses and the urgent need for post-war reconstruction. Between 1945 and 1951, the British government brought in 190,000 male workers from refugee camps and from Italy. There were strict regulations for these workers; they had to stay in their designated jobs, had no right to family reunions, and could be deported for misbehaviour. Similar measures were taken in other countries; France set up its Office Nacional d'Immigracion in 1945 in order to meet its labour requirements and compensate for its low birth rate. Employers...