Study: Foreign Aid Can Dampen Migration If It Improves Public Services

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With the refugee crisis and the arrival of thousands of migrants on the southern European coasts, pressure has been mounting on the European Commission and the most affected EU member states to find ways to effectively manage (and stem) migration flows. Many see foreign aid as an essential part of a long-term strategy to address the root causes of migration through the creation of job opportunities, quality education, and better public services. Indeed, pledges to scale up aid to developing countries are now routinely accompanied by statements arguing that helping countries to develop gives their people an incentive to stay at home. In June 2015, for instance, the U.K. defence secretary declared that ‘‘Britain needs to spend more of its budget on helping stabilise countries so that it doesn’t have to ‘fish’ migrants out of the Mediterranean”. But have donors followed up on their promises by actually increasing aid budgets? And, if so, can additional foreign aid help reduce migration flows?

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