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Regional Conference on Migration

 

 

23

governments or employers, and be private contractors, recruiting firm employees or officials from 

international organizations.  

Conclusion 

There are many variables to consider and no one right solution. No labour migration policy 

can be divorced from the social, economic, political and cultural realities and considerations in any 

given country. While thinking about approaches to temporary migrant worker programs at the broad, 

conceptual level may be useful, there are also a number of very practical questions to consider.  

2. Temporary Worker Program: A Global Perspective 

Ricardo Cordero 

A. Temporary Labor Migration within a Global Context 

In the beginning of the twenty-first century, international migration continues to be a matter of 

growing interest for the media, public opinion, academia, civil society and, of course, governments, 

who clearly understand the complexity of the phenomenon of labor migration. While labor migration 

occurs mainly for economic reasons, it is also closely linked to various political, social, cultural, 

human rights, and security aspects. 

According to data from the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs 

(UNDESA) and the International Labor Organization (ILO), close to 90 million temporary and 

permanent migrant workers were recorded globally for 2006. This figure accounts for 45% of the 

estimated nearly 200 million migrants worldwide. Of the estimated total number of migrant 

workers, 33% are in Europe, 30% in the Americas, 26% in Asia, 8% in Africa, and 3% in Oceania. 

In the Americas, 24% of the total percentage (30%) are in Canada and the US, and 6% in Latin 

America and the Caribbean.  

Furthermore, it should be noted that the majority of temporary migrant workers worldwide 

migrate between developing countries – a phenomenon known as “South-South” migration – more 

than to developed countries (South-North migration). In addition, according to studies of CEPAL, an 

estimated 20 million Latin Americans were working outside their countries of origin in 2006. Other 

equally well-founded studies and information sources show that unqualified temporary migrant 

workers account for more than 80% of the temporary labor migration flows at a global level. Most 

temporary migrant workers work in the sectors of agriculture, construction, tourism/hotel services, 

health care, housework, and fishing.  

B. The Global Economic Crisis and Labor Migration 

Today, no forum addressing the topic of migration at a global, regional, or national level can leave out 

the analysis of the global economic crisis and its repercussions on migration in general and labor 

migration specifically. The global financial crisis, which began during the second half of 2008, has led 

to lethargy in the global economy, which has rapidly turned into a more acute economic recession. 

Now, it is difficult to foresee the magnitude, scope, and duration of the crisis as well as its 

repercussions at this point in time, since the parameters vary for each country, geographic region, and 

sector of the labor market. 

Within this context, it can be observed that migrant workers – and particularly temporary 

migrant workers – tend to be the most vulnerable category of workers during periods of economic 

recession, in terms of loss of employment and working conditions, discrimination, and xenophobia. 

ILO has estimated that global unemployment will increase to 210 million persons in 2010, which 



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