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Although Morocco has evolved into one of the world’s leading emigration countries, the systematic study of the developmental impact of migration in migrant-sending regions in Morocco and the Maghreb has been relatively neglected after a temporary surge of pessimistic studies in the 1970s. Empirical work from this region has therefore been largely absent from the lively theoretical debate on migration and development. This study attempts to re-establish this link through qualitative research and a survey among 507 non-migrant, internal and international migrant households in the Moroccan Todgha oasis. The study shows that international migration and remittances have significantly contributed to economic development, improved standards of living and enabled the partial emancipation of subaltern ethnic groups. International migrant households invest more than others in housing, agriculture and other enterprises. Risk spreading and income stabilisation rather than increasing incomes seem to be the prime rationale behind internal migration, although internal migration tends to facilitate the education and international migration of younger household members. Remittance expenditure and investments have stimulated the diversifying and urbanising regional economy and have triggered a counter-flow of “reverse” internal migration. However, several structural constraints prevent the high development potential of migration from being fully realised.

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Journal article



Publication Date



37 (4)


565 - 580


Wage-labour migration, Remittances, Investments, Rural development, Social change, Middle East and North Africa