Emerging Diaspora Opportunities and Challenges: Host and Home Countries
The goal of KNOMAD is to develop the evidence base for policy making on migration and development. One obstacle to the development of sound policies and programs for realizing the development potential of diasporas is the lack of reliable information about the location and characteristics of diaspora populations. Policy makers lament the fact that they do not really know where diaspora populations are, which makes it extremely difficult to contact them. Governments often manage to communicate only with a relatively small, and not necessarily representative, group of diaspora members. Diaspora engagement is a big and growing issue in developed and developing countries, with strong policy interest. But all things considered, the topic is vastly under-studied compared to its economic importance. What do states expect from greater diaspora engagement? Policy makers look to members of the diaspora to help overcome some of the constraints that inhibit development: lack of investment and international business acumen, lack of professional and technical skills, isolation from global networks of knowledge, and exclusion from global supply chains, among others. If people who leave retain a connection with the country of origin, and nurture it in their children and subsequent generations, emigration may not be a loss to the country but rather an investment in productive global connections that will contribute to development. The life cycle of the diaspora in the destination country is understudied, in terms of the nature and intensity of its engagement. Since the population share of the first- and secondgeneration diaspora will increase in the next decades, better understanding of the demographic profile and educational and income mobility is needed. Of particular importance is research on ways to ensure greater upward mobility in the context of second generation (particularly given the recent participation of diaspora youth in conflicts in the Middle East).