LEST / Université d’Aix Marseille, France
Mustapha el Miri is an associate professor in Sociology at Aix-Marseille University and a researcher at the Institute of Labour Economics and Industrial Sociology (LEST-UMR7317). His research interests are sociology of migration, social policy, economic sociology, sociology of the state, sociology of globalization and political sociology. In the last few years, his main research has focused on migrations between Morocco and Europe. He worked on clandestine migrants and their integration to the wage system. He is a member of the International Research Group (GDRI) « La mondialisation humaine : migration, travail, génération, mobilisation sociale et frontières/Human Globalisation : migration, work, generation, social mobilisation and borders » and a member of TRANSPUME « Les transformations du service public en Méditerranée/ Transformations of Public Service in the Mediterranean Area ».
Refugees or labour migration are often analysed only as a problem and a cost to the host country. Yet, these forced or voluntary circulations produce economic dynamics at the local level, from which the host countries, especially the settling communities, directly benefit. The relocation of entrepreneurial or industrial activities, as in the province of Mersin in southern Turkey – that has received according to the Centre for Middle East Strategic Studies $ 4 billion of investments led by recently settled Syrians – boosts the economy of the host country and opens up new export segments. Most of the international financing, or financial resources mobilized by NGOs to provide assistance to refugees are invested locally. Moreover, the arrival of a skilled workforce often contributes to the modernization of host regions, and non-qualified labour participates in the development of the informal sector and competitiveness of a number of activities by lowering labour cost.
In fact, the influx of refugees or voluntary migrants has an impact on the local economic sector and the labour market but it is also a source of tension: between the refugees themselves, those traveling with their economic resources (commerce, business, finance), those traveling only with their knowhow (the skilled ones) and those who can only offer their help (the unskilled ones); between the more recent and the oldest refugees (eg. between long-term settled Palestinians and Syrians); and between refugees and local populations.
Thus the arrival of refugees has consequences in terms of new segmentation of the labour market, new social hierarchy, including loss of social standing and social resettlement, and increasingly strong economic interdependence of the populations at a local level. In the context of the Lajeh research project, the members of the LEST will focus on the labour market and local economic dynamics produced by the mass influx of Syrian refugees in the province of Mersin in southern Turkey and within the Lebanese capital where former settled refugees rub shoulders with newcomers, who are sometimes of the same original nationality.
migration, labor markets, local economies, economic development, institutions