Migration and Economics


Migration has always been a part of human history, and is relevant to a discussion of both historical and contemporary economics. Migration can be a very broad topic, and can lead on to other issues such as race and racism. Because this course is limited in how much it can cover in a short space of time, we will be looking at migration from two main perspectives: Firstly, we will be unpacking why people migrate and what different kinds of migration there might be, and secondly we will consider in what ways migration interacts with economic activity.

Learning Outcome

That participants will understand what migration is, what influences it, and will challenge common myths surrounding migration in the media and everyday discourse.


1. FAQ: What is the difference between a migrant and a refugee?

A very simple explanation of the difference between a migrant and a refugee.
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2. Infographic: Where do the World’s Refugees Flee?

The Refugee Project is a learning experience created to increase awareness about the plight of millions of people just like you around the world who have had no choice but to flee their homes. The Refugee Project was created by Hyperakt and Ekene Ijeoma. Special thanks to the UNHCR for providing access to over 50 years of refugee migration data, their complete digital archive of published refugee stories and original photography.

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3. Article: Asylum and Refugees – How Ireland Compares


Source: The Journal

Source: The Journal

In this analysis of data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Dan MacGuill compares Ireland’s administrative treatment of refugees and asylum seekers with those of other European countries.

4. Video: ‘The Migrant Manifesto’ – Musa Okwonga

'Dignity' according to The Migrant Manifesto, “has no nationality”. Read here by spoken-word artist and journalist Musa Okwonga, this poem is a passioned defence of those who have been forced to leave their countries of origin.

5. Video: ‘Mathematics’ – Hollie McNish

Spoken-word artist, Hollie McNish, performs her piece Mathematics, a poem on immigration based on her personal experiences and studies.

6. Article: The Refugees at Our Door

Here, the New York Times delves into what is known as “the silent refugee crisis” – the massive movement of people from violence-stricken Central America to Mexico and the United States. Often portrayed in the media and by politicians as purely seeking out greater economic opportunity, those who brave the treacherous journey northwards, and their reasons for doing so, are explored here in gripping detail.
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7. Article: ‘Why Al Jazeera will not say Mediterranean ‘migrants’

This article takes the distinction between ‘migrant’ and ‘refugee’ further, and explores why media outlet Al Jazeera takes the ethical position not to refer to Mediterranean ‘migrants’.

Discussion Questions

  1. What is migration? What different kinds of migration are there?
  2. Did the infographics about displaced people surprise you in any way? How?
  3. Are Hollie McNish and Musa Okwonga both describing the same thing? What are the differences?

Learning Journal

  • What have been the effects of emigration and migration on communities in Ireland, historically?
  • Does migration effect the economy and inequality?

Extra Resources

Farris, SaraNeoliberalism, Migrant Women, and the Commodification of Care
World BankOpinion: Migration as a way to reduce global inequality