Does Migration Improve the Well Being of Migrants? IOM World Migration Report 2013

24 September 2013 – From time immemorial, human beings have migrated in search of a better life. The factors driving migration are numerous and complex: many migrate in search of greater opportunities – to earn a better living, to live in a more agreeable environment or to join family or friends abroad. The most fundamental questions they must ask themselves, therefore, are whether they will be happier if they migrate and whether their life will be better than it is now.

IOM South Africa in partnership with the Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation (GovInn) will host a national Launch of the World Migration Report 2013 on Wednesday the 25th of September at the University of Pretoria. The report was launched globally by IOM in Geneva on the 13th of September 2013.

For the first time, the 2013 report presents a global picture of the wellbeing of migrants worldwide looking at the four pathways of migration. Globally, migration affects the wellbeing of migrants and the situation is different for migrants living in high income economies (referred to as “the North”) and middle- to low income economies (referred to as “the South”). Length of stay in a destination country also plays a big role in migrants’ wellbeing.

Drawing on the findings of a Gallup World Poll, which surveyed more than 25,000 migrants in over 150 countries, the report takes a fresh look at what life is really like for migrants in the world today, whether they migrate to and between rich countries in the North, or to and between poorer countries in the South.

According to the UN Millennium Declaration, improving the well-being of the individual is one of the key aims of development. But development is often measured primarily in terms of economic indicators, such as GNP.

This World Migration Report 2013 focuses instead on migrants as persons and on how the migration experience has affected their lives in positive or negative ways. The report also investigates how migration leads or does not lead to a better life; how satisfied migrants are with their lives compared to the local population; if they find it more difficult to find jobs or start a business; and if they are more likely to report health problems. Migrants are given a unique opportunity to tell their own stories.

Many reports on migration and development focus on the broad socioeconomic consequences of migratory processes through the study of the impact of, for instance, remittances, migrant knowledge networks, or diaspora resources. From this perspective, the consequences of migration for the lives of individual migrants can easily be overlooked.

The Well Being of Migrants in South Africa

With the demise of Apartheid almost 2 decades ago, South Africa has seen exponential increase in the number of immigrants and has become a destination for a variety of migrants from the African continent and beyond. South Africa has often been described as a “country of milk and honey” for migrants.

“The question is: do migrants actually experience improvement in their well-being once they have reached their dream destination – South Africa? The answer to this question significantly varies from migrant to migrant and depends on multiple factors including, their legal status in the country, the socioeconomic and demographic profiles, education level, the existence of social support networks duration of stay and subsequent degree of social integration etc,” says Dr. Erick Ventura, IOM South Africa Chief of Mission a.i.

The perceived well-being of migrants in South Africa may also depend on whether the individual migrant perceives the living conditions in country as better than those in the country of origin. Certainly, South Africa provides the most progressive legal framework for equitable access to opportunities and services that improves one’s wellbeing. However, the reality on the ground has often been a mixed bag of experiences and challenges which mediate different migrants’ well-being in significantly different ways.

The launch event and panel discussion on the Well Being of Migrants in South Africa is scheduled as follows:

Date: Wednesday 25th September 2013

Time: 10h30 to 12h30

Venue: SRC Chamber, Conference Centre, University of Pretoria (Main Campus, Hatfield).

The World Migration Report, IOM’s flagship publication, features the latest trends in international migration, discusses emerging policy issues and provides regional recent developments in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Oceania.

The full report and press kit can be downloaded from:

For more information, please contact Gaone Dixon Tel:  +27 72 127 7094 Email: