The question of how different migrant groups can contribute to development and reduce poverty in their countries of origin has in recent years received increasing attention in the development aid policy debate. This is hardly surprising in light of the fact that the savings and experiences that migrants accumulate in their new home countries can benefit the countries of origin. For example, the money that migrants send home to relatives and friends in developing countries, so-called remittances, now far exceeds the total international aid. In addition, migrant groups are occasionally attributed an important role in the reconstruction of post-conflict countries and in the transfer of knowledge between countries. Migrant groups can also facilitate the integration of new arrivals in their new home countries.

Some overall conclusions and recommendations

  • The literature shows that there is a great interest in policy for issues that have to do with the diaspora and especially the aspects of the diaspora that deal with relations with and commitment to the home country.
  • In research, there are mainly four themes within the state of knowledge regarding diaspores. The first is about the role of diasporas in the development of the home country, the second is knowledge development and how diasporas become actors in this. The third theme is peace and reconstruction work in the home country. The fourth theme focuses on the host society and the importance of diasporas for migration and the networks of migrants.
  • However, diasporas are not homogeneous and stable groups that can be seen as representatives of all migrants from a country and their suitability and ability to act as a development organization can be questioned.
  • In cases where there are political conflicts and power struggles in the home country, the diasporas can in turn be the subject of various kinds of interventions that can affect the direction of their involvement. Transferring social responsibility for, for example, development initiatives to diasporas or non-governmental organizations is therefore not an option.

About the author

The research overview, Diaspora - a concept in development, is written by Erik Olsson, professor of International Migration and Ethnic Relations at Stockholm University.

Picture by Hans Peter Gauster from Unsplash.