Economic migrants

Other Names:
Economic refugees

Deteriorating economic, social, political and ecological conditions have been responsible for most of the migration from (and between) developing countries. About 55% of the world's estimated 130 million migrants reside in developing countries. According to the most recent (1990) census data, some developing countries host amongst the world's highest percentages of migrants in their populations: Côte d'Ivoire had close to 30% of foreign born persons in its total population; Jordan 26%, and Costa Rica 19%. Such high percentages place a heavy burden on developing host countries in terms of migration management and integration efforts. Among the major causal factors for economic migration are population growth, disparities in economic development and GNP, salaries and living conditions, economic crisis, poverty in its different forms, political instability, ethnic conflict and advancing ecological deterioration. Economic refugees or migrants may be refused permission to settle in a foreign country and may be denied assistance by international organizations which assist political refugees who have left their countries because of war or persecution.


Application for an asylum is typically a spontaneous and individual act. Generally it is submitted by people who were exposed to a personal trauma, because their human rights were severely breached, when they became victims of attacks threatening their health, safety or integrity. It is apparent that the exodus of the Slovak Roma to western and northern Europe in the 1990s was not the case, for hundreds of Roma could not become victims of similar attacks on very different locations of Slovakia in the same period of time. Also, if people flee from their countries, they do not go back to collect belongings and family members, as was the case of many of these people. Strong allegations appeared that the exodus was organised by certain groups of enterprisers who profited on fully booked aeroplanes, or by political groups that were interested not to approach Slovakia's integration into the European Union. A Czech Airlines source confirmed that flights to Helsinki were bought up by Czech people who were meeting the Slovak Gypsies at the airport, sold them the tickets and went buying new ones. Strikingly, many illiterate Roma or those without any interest in reading and politics were heading chiefly for countries that had good asylum conditions and where the asylum procedure took several months. Moreover, the case culminated in Finland just in the days when the country took over presidency over European Union.

In 1999, an asylum procedure could take as long as a one year in Finland. The applicants enjoyed free food and lodging and received 1,500 Finnish marks as pocket money per month. Many refugees managed to profit on such a trip, regardless whether they were granted an asylum or not. This was very clearly the case of Slovak and Czech Roma who were deported from United Kingdom and tried their luck in another countries.

Related Problems:
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic GrowthGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
Problem Type:
D: Detailed problems
Date of last update
04.10.2020 – 22:48 CEST